Nashville Fashion Week 2019 Sustainability Summit
Sustainable fashion is part of the growing philosophy of design and of the movement towards environmental and social sustainability, whose objective is to create a system that can be supported indefinitely in terms of human impact on the environment and social responsibility. Sustainable fashion concerns more than textiles or fashion products. It includes addressing the entire fashion system. This means dealing with interdependent social, cultural, ecological and financial systems.
It also means considering fashion from the perspective of many stakeholders: users and producers, all living species, contemporary and future inhabitants of the earth. Sustainable fashion, therefore, belongs to and is the responsibility of citizens, the public sector and the private sector. A key example of the need for systems to think fashion is that the benefit of product-level initiatives, such as replacing one type of fiber with an option less harmful to the environment, is consumed by increasing volumes of fashion products. A term adjacent to sustainable fashion is eco-fashion.
Concerns Related to Sustainable Fashion
Fashion is, by definition, a phenomenon related to time: a popular style in a certain time and context. This also affects the perception of what is and should be made more "sustainable", whether fashion should be "fast" or "slow", or whether it should be more exclusive or inclusive.
When it comes to clothes themselves, their durability also depends on their use and their "metabolism": certain garments are designed to withstand prolonged use (eg, outdoor gear, winter jackets), while others have a twist faster (for example, a party top). This means that some garments have properties to be more durable, while others must be compostable or recyclable for faster disintegration.
One of the most obvious reasons for the current unsustainable situation of the fashion system is related to the temporal aspects of fashion; the continuous flow of new products to the market, or what is popularly known as "fast fashion". The term has come to mean cheap, accessible and trendy clothing, acquired through global production chains and sold through chains such as H & M, Zara, Forever21, etc. Cline was one of the first investigations on the increase of the disposable consumption of the fashion and its impacts in the planet, the economy and the relations of the consumers with the clothes.
However, the "quick" aspect of consumption is a problem for the environment first when it is carried out on a massive scale. While visible and rapid consumption was reserved for the rich, the global impact was not coming to public attention or was seen as a problem. That is to say, the "fast shopping" of haute couture is not considered a problem, but it is celebrated (for example, in films like Pretty Woman), whereas when people with less resources buy in a fast way, they are considered unethical and a problem
Slow fashion can be seen as an alternative approach against fast fashion. The characteristics of sustainable fashion coincide with the philosophies of "slow fashion". The slow fashion represents a vision of sustainability in the fashion sector based on different values and objectives up to the present. It requires a modified infrastructure and a reduced production of goods. Categorically, slow fashion is not a business as usual, but involves design classics. Nor is production as usual, but with long delivery times. Slow fashion is a vision of the fashion industry built from a different starting point.  Slow fashion is a fashionable concept that reflects a perspective that respects human living conditions, biological diversity, cultural and scarce global resources and creates unique and personalized products.
Slow fashion consists of durable products, traditional production techniques or design concepts that have no season. For workers in the textile industry in developing countries, slow fashion means higher wages. For end users, slow fashion means that the products are designed and manufactured with more care and high-quality products. From an environmental point of view, it means that there is less clothing and industrial waste that is removed from use following transitory trends slowly. New ideas and product innovations are constantly redefining slow fashion, so the use of a static and unique definition would ignore the evolutionary nature of the concept.
One of the first brands that gained worldwide fame in terms of slow fashion, the UK brand, People Tree, which embraces the concept of ethical commerce, manufactures all products in accordance with ethical trade rules and supports producers and local artisans in developing countries. The People Tree brand is known as the first brand in the world that received the Ethical Trade Brand award, which was awarded in 2013.  In addition to adopting an ethical trade, the brand also prefers to use materials friendly to nature, textiles Products with GOTS certification and local, natural, recyclable materials.
However, the concept of slow fashion is not without controversy, since the imperative of slowness is a mandate that arises from a position of privilege. To stop using "fast-fashion" attacks against low-income consumers whose only means of accessing trends is through cheap and accessible products. Those who already have a high position in society can afford to slow down and consolidate their status and position, while those in their path resent being told to remain at the bottom echelons of the state hierarchy.
Interview with founder and CEO of lifestyle brand ABLE, Barrett Ward at the NFW Sustainability Summit
Unemployment is indeed a bane for the society and could lead to several threatening circumstances for economic, cultural and social development of a nation. The escalation of unemployment rates inflicts the first strike on women and children, and this is equally applicable for a developed country like the United States and a developing nation too! It is evident that women with jobs in developing nations are more likely to contribute around 80 to 90 percent of their income to the community as compared to men who would contribute only 30 to 40 percent of their income back into the community. It seems like; women are the better bet for ensuring the progress of our nation, isn’t it?
On the occasion of the Nashville, Fashion Week (NFW) Sustainability Summit held on Monday, April 1, 2019, the founder and CEO of ABEL, Barrett Ward, provided some unique insights into the origin story of his company and his journey in the building of a prolific fashion and accessory company in an interview. ABLE has transformed the scenario for various purpose-oriented brands to capitalize on emerging opportunities and influence many lives in amazing ways.
The interview with Barrett was an exciting experience, and I hope that it will appeal to you too! A closer look at the various highlights of the interview may help you with that.
A Tough Start!
Barrett and his wife Rachel moved to Ethiopia immediately after their marriage. As if it was not hard for the couple to start settling after the marriage, Rachel accepted a job offer in Ethiopia. Barrett recalls having a tough time in adjusting to the new country. However, the troubles were short-lived as the couple started enjoying Ethiopia and it was here that Barrett thought of establishing ABLE.
Developing and Working for a Cause
In the initial days, Barrett realized that supporting a single group of women would not help the cause of ABLE. So, the expansion of ABLE in the early days had to be focused on helping many women. This idea enabled Barrett to conceive the mission for ABLE that was aligned with the creation of jobs for women who have succeeded in overcoming and turn ABLE into the company it is today! In addition to this unique notion of helping women find employment, ABLE also encouraged and provided opportunities to women for investing back in various communities in Peru, Ethiopia, and Mexico.
Focus on Accountability
Barrett also threw some light on his company’s new “accountABLE” program which was designed for measuring the impact made by ABLE on the society. While chatting about dealing with poverty and the impact of a woman on her community, Barrett pointed out to the fact that he realized his responsibility for proving the impact made by ABLE. The objectives of Barrett for transparency have been adequately reflected in his measures to introduce “accountABLE” that is poised to make a tremendous impact in the future.
The journey of Barrett Ward in creating a fashion lifestyle brand and leading it to the position it is at now could be a bit whimsical because Barrett proclaims himself as ‘not too much into fashion kind of guy”! However, the visionary has transformed the conventional notions in the fashion industry by successfully establishing and growing his Nashville-based company which is dedicated to the mission of providing sustainable business opportunities for women.
Contributing Opportunities for a Better Future
The vision of establishing ABLE with a social conscience came to Barrett Ward and his wife Rachel during their stay in Ethiopia where they witnessed the dire situations encountered by young women due to extreme poverty. The couple was determined to provide these women with the opportunity to earn money with dignity. The first steps of ABLE in 2010 were accompanied by the employment of women that had shunned the sex trade for crafting handmade scarves. Eight years later, ABLE has turned into a reputed lifestyle brand with many products ranging across denim, leather bags, shoes, jewelry, apparel, and bags.
Empowerment at the Heart
It is interesting to note that ABLE’s commitment to the empowerment of women at a disadvantage due to poverty has sustained until now. The company presently employs over 300 women in Mexico, Peru and the Headquarters and Flagship store of ABLE in Nashville. Despite the promising growth in popularity of the classic styles of ABLE, it has still stayed true to its core vision of providing opportunities to women who have been able to endure and overpower some of the toughest obstacles in their life!
Nashville Fashion Week
Nashville Fashion Week was conceived in 2010 to foster Nashville’s heralded community spirit and concentration of creative, fashion-forward and entrepreneurial talent, to create a one-of-a-kind five-day event that is uniquely Nashville.
Nashville Fashion Week kicked off in April 2011 with a city-wide celebration of Nashville’s thriving fashion and retail community and its vast array of creative talent and continues to gain momentum year after year. Featuring local, regional and national designers and industry professionals in an array of creative events throughout the city encourages both Nashvillians and visitors to explore the city’s diverse fashion and retail spaces with promotions, partnerships and educational workshops.
Nashville Fashion Week was co-founded by a collaboration of fashion, media, and marketing professionals that partnered to combine their passion and resources to create a completely volunteer-led, run and managed the event that spotlights Nashville’s growing fashion community with an ongoing, sustainable focus for philanthropic support of our creative community.
Ticket proceeds from Nashville Fashion Week benefit the Nashville Fashion Forward Fund of The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee. The Nashville Fashion Forward Fund gives an annual award to advance the career of select local talent with demonstrated experience in a fashion-related field. The Nashville Fashion Forward Fund ensures that Nashville Fashion Week will impact the Nashville fashion community for many years to come.
Fashion Industry Facts
The global textile and apparel industry, which includes fabrics, clothing, footwear, and many other manufactured goods, is currently worth nearly $3 trillion.
Global bridalwear is expected to be valued $66.6 billion by 2017.
Global menswear is expected to be valued at $571 billion in 2018.
By 2018, global womenswear is expected to be valued $773 billion.
The US is the largest importer of garments in the world.
Nearly 40% of apparel products sold in the US are imported from China.
American households spend nearly $2,000 on apparel, footwear, and other textile-related products and services annually.
Source - https://www.paragonfinancial.net/blog/10-fascinating-textiles-apparel-industry-facts/
Feel Free to connect with Barrett on the official website of ABLE!
Nashville Fashion Week
5022 Centennial Blvd, Nashville, TN 37209
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