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.