Former Liz Claiborne fashion designer Asha Pabla possesses years of experience in garment design, quality control, and fabric sourcing. Outside of the fashion industry, Asha Pabla serves on the board of directors of the American India Foundation (AIF).
In its efforts to promote economic and social change in India, the AIF maintains numerous programs, including the Youth Ambassador Program. The program focuses on establishing a bridge between the United States and India by exposing US high school students to conditions in India.
The Youth Ambassador Program gives American students the opportunity to visit communities in India and interact with the country’s private sector and schools. During their time in India, US students participate in a service-learning curriculum designed by the AIF and work in hands-on activities offered through AIF’s partnership with the Frugal Innovation Lab at the Santa Clara University School of Engineering. Through first-hand experience, American students develop an understanding of the economic, environmental, and social challenges that Indian communities face.
After receiving a degree from the Parsons School of Design, Asha Pabla found a job as a fashion designer for Liz Claiborne. She has also served as a manager for fabric and textiles at New York fabrics manufacturer Pressman Gutman. As a successful professional of South Asian descent, Asha Pabla actively supports the youth of her own heritage through South Asian Youth Action (SAYA).
Since its inception in 1996, SAYA has been operating a New York-based youth development program that aims to help young people thrive academically, professionally, and personally in today’s world. What started as a small afterschool program for South Asian youth in Queens eventually grew to become a citywide project that incorporates a holistic approach to providing youth support.
At the core of SAYA’s programs is academic support to high school students. To be fully prepared for college, SAYA youth receive free individual tutoring and college advisement. Moreover, students can attend classes that will help them prepare for the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT). On top of these, SAYA assists students in completing college applications, personal statements, and financial aid forms.
Asha Pabla has managed three lines of production in the fabric and textile industry. A graduate of Parsons School of Design, Asha Pabla also serves on the board of directors of the American India Foundation (AIF).
The AIF is a nonprofit organization that works to enhance economic and social change in India by creating a bridge between the South Asian state and the United States. Its global office is located in New York City. The organization, which also has offices in Palo Alto, California, and Gurgaon, India, has improved the lives of over 3.1 million individuals through programs such as the Learning and Migration Program.
The AIF’s Learning and Migration Program (LAMP), which it implemented in 2003, is an educational initiative that addresses disruptions to children’s education due to seasonal labor migration. Young children are often unable to receive a quality education and some do not attend school at all as they have to migrate with their families. LAMP targets areas that experience high levels of migration, offering a learning enrichment program as well as accommodation in seasonal hostels. In addition, it engages in advocacy in keeping with the Right to Education Act of 2009.
Asha Pabla holds degrees in design and has worked extensively in the New York fashion and textile industries. She also supports a range of philanthropic causes and has served as a volunteer with the League of Artisans. Asha Pabla’s love for the handmade jewelry of craftswomen from around the world has given her particular respect for the challenges indigenous and rural workers face.
The League of Artisans has worked to highlight the artistic and economic contributions made by female artisans in under-resourced and tribal communities to help improve the daily lives of these craftspeople. Through the efforts of the League and its supporters, increasing numbers of women around the world have been able to achieve sustainable livelihoods and better provide for themselves and their families.
The non-partisan, secular League also dedicated itself to an effort to ensure protection for tribal and indigenous artwork, art forms, and natural environments.
Outside the work of the League of Artisans in New York, a number of other organizations dedicated to empowering female craftspeople have arisen around the world over the years. Many of these, such as the Mexico-based Mujeres Sembrando la Vida (“Women Sowing Life”) are directed by the craftswomen themselves for their cooperative benefit.
Asha Pabla holds degrees in design from what is now Philadelphia University and Parsons School of Design. Her love of fabric and fashion compelled her to accept management positions in the garment industry, culminating in a design position at Liz Claiborne. In addition to this practical experience, Asha Pabla has thought extensively about the economic and social impacts of the fashion industry.
When customers buy clothing from well-known design houses, they understand that they are paying more for the quality of planning, execution, and materials involved. American designers such as Marc Jacobs, Phillip Lim, and Narciso Rodriguez offer looks that blend cutting-edge design and an architectural quality of construction with classic elegance.
Yet, a vigorous worldwide “fast-fashion” industry exists side by side with these marquee fashion names, copying runway trends to turn a quick profit. Additionally, companies churn out numerous “knock-off” labels for sale at low prices. In many cases, the factory conditions for the manufacture of these fast-fashion looks are subpar, exploiting workers outside the reach of American and European regulations about fair labor conditions.
The press has reported extensively on dangerous environments in non-Western garment factories, where most of the employees are female. Toxic elements such as lead can accumulate in workers’ bodies, their workplaces may catch fire, and they often suffer harassment.
Advocates now ask Western customers to look more closely at the labels they buy to make fashion truly beautiful for everyone whose life it touches.
Asha Pabla earned a degree in interior design from Parsons School of Design after completing the undergraduate program in the same field at Philadelphia College of Textiles & Science (now Philadelphia University). In her studies, Asha Pabla concentrated on the history and use of textiles. Her formal education and interest in fashion proved instrumental in finding work as a fashion designer with Liz Claiborne in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
More than just a label on stylish, affordable women’s clothing, Liz Claiborne was the first female entrepreneur whose company achieved a ranking on the Forbes 500. From its founding in 1976 through the 1990s, the company enjoyed widespread popularity among professional women and demonstrated resilience during tough economic cycles.
Born in Brussels, Belgium, in 1929, Anne Elisabeth Jane Claiborne started her company in New York to meet demand for an alternative to the often starched and fussy business suits of the 1970s. In partnership with her husband, she created and marketed a wide range of well-designed yet easy-care, mix-and-match sportswear in vibrant color palettes.
The company hit its peak in the mid-1980s. As it entered the Forbes list, its sales easily surpassed the $5 million mark.
Accomplished fashion designer Asha Pabla collaborated on unique designs for Liz Claiborne for several years. She was responsible for each design’s quality control and oversaw the quality of garments’ shaping, fit, and stitching. Now focusing on her philanthropic work, Asha Pabla serves on the board of directors for the South Asian Youth Association.
As part of its mission to help youth thrive personally, professionally, and academically, the South Asian Youth Association (SAYA) maintains several comprehensive programs, including its leadership and identity development programs. These programs designed for young men and women in high school helps these individuals develop their social and personal identities. They also improve critical-thinking skills and foster a sense of peer support and trust.
SAYA offers various activities, discussions, and reflections within its leadership and identity programs. All programs maintain a culturally affirmative environment and help youth handle challenges relating to such topics as race and gender. Participants challenge the existing stereotypes through group discussions and complete various projects focused on getting them out of their comfort zone.
Meanwhile, they explore potential career interests through guest speakers and regular workplace trips. SAYA also hosts an annual career exploration day that gives youth the opportunity to learn about different professional and educational options.
Artisan Asha Pabla Frequents the New York Art Scene