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.
Asha Pabla is a veteran of the fashion and textile industries. Outside of work, Asha Pabla gives back to the community through her involvement with a range of different organizations, including Aid to Artisans. This organization works with artisans around the world to grow the market for their goods and help them earn a livable income.
Aid to Artisans has successfully teamed with 10 indigenous textile groups in Mexico to support more than 300 artisans from Chiapas and surrounding communities. This area is served by the CASE Project, which helps designers and craftspeople tell the story of Mexico through textiles and weaving.
CASE is also focused on addressing gender issues in Maya society that discourage the development of artisan skillsets and inhibit business growth. Late last year, the organization launched a gender training program that brought together wives and husbands in an effort to analyze how culture can constrain artistic and economic growth.
In Chiapas, many women are viewed as homemakers who should rely on their husbands for financial support. Weaving is seen as a pastime to be pursued only when household chores are completed. However, women allowed to take weaving seriously can earn a healthy income, but they need support from their husbands to travel outside the village to procure materials, attend workshops, and network.
Men who attended the workshop immediately became more willing to help with childcare so that women could pursue their work in the evening. Some men even offered to become involved by helping procure materials and assisting in the weaving process.
Possessing experience as a fashion designer and fabric and textile manager, Asha Pabla earned an associate’s degree in interior design from the Parson’s School of Design in New York City and a bachelor’s degree in textile and interior design from Philadelphia University’s College of Science & Textiles. In her leisure time, Asha Pabla enjoys visiting the Lincoln Center.
The Lincoln Center hosts festivals and programs continually throughout the year. While many of them are seasonal, the David Rubenstein Atrium at Lincoln Center hosts free performing artist events each week. Organized by the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, Inc., atrium events welcome national, international, and local artists, as well as Lincoln Center-affiliated groups, such as Jazz at Lincoln Center, the Juilliard School, and the Chamber Music Society.
Music genres represented at atrium events cover the gamut of soul, hip-hop, pop, jazz, rock, classical, and country, among others. In addition, some concerts social dancing events featuring live swing, salsa, and tango.
For those who have children, LC Kids performances take place on Saturday mornings. The interactive hour-long kids’ concerts and story times are appropriate for various age groups. While some events are all-ages affairs, others are designed specifically for younger or older children, as noted in program descriptions.
As a fashion designer for Liz Claiborne from 1989 to 1991, Asha Pabla scouted New York City for fashion inspiration and developed numerous designs selected for line production. In addition, Asha Pabla has served on the board of directors of the American India Foundation (AIF).
Founded in the wake of the Gujarat earthquake in 2001, AIF is a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving lives in India and developing strong US-India relationships.
AIF’s Annual Washington, DC, Gala, which took place on September 23, 2016, at the Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, Maryland, raised $150,000. The funds will go directly toward AIF’s Ability-Based Livelihood Empowerment (ABLE) program.
Dedicated to improving the lives 70 million people with disabilities in India, the ABLE program aims to deliver individuals opportunity of a dignified existence and gainful employment. AIF stresses education and believes that people are defined by what they do rather than what disability they have.
For more information about AIF and its programs, visit www.aif.org.
Artisan Asha Pabla Frequents the New York Art Scene