With his new Gulf Gate clothing store, Chad Abel hopes to promote socially conscious clothing.
In recent years, many people have become more conscious of the food they consume — both for health and moral reasons. Phrases like “responsibly sourced,” “sustainable” and “fair trade” accompany branding efforts of many health foods.
Fewer people, however, realize how these principals can apply to everything we consume — even clothes.
Chad Abel, owner of Able and Willing Supply Co., located at 6561 Superior Ave. in Gulf Gate, explains the difference between what he calls “fast” and “slow fashion.”
“We’re used to buying cheap, quickly made clothes that last for maybe one season,” he says. “They’re not durable, and they’re often tied to trends and don’t stay in style long. The thing is, you can’t make fast fashion that’s a socially conscious product.”
Without labor laws and other regulations in place in the countries where a lot of clothing manufacturing takes place, many workers are exploited with unfair wages and unsafe working conditions.
When Abel discovered clothing companies making socially conscious products and donating profits back to the communities impacted by the industry, he decided to open his own shop, Able and Willing Supply Co., to promote those brands.
We sat down with Abel to talk slow fashion, sustainability and valuing quality over quantity.
“I'VE ALWAYS HAD a passion for helping others. More and more, I felt a calling to do something more with my life. It was weighing on me.”
“I HAVE A BACKGROUND in graphic design, and I’ve worked for some great brands in the industry. But eventually, my eyes were opened to the industry as a whole, and I knew I wanted to do something. There are a lot of companies not doing things the right way, so I started following companies that were making socially conscious products.”
"SLOW FASHION FOCUSES on the manufacturing process. It ensures that employees are paid a fair wage and have good working conditions.”
"THE PRODUCTS I SELL are ones that donate some of their profits to causes I find important. Some of them fight sex trafficking; some donate back to women in Third World countries to teach them life skills and help empower them to support their families. Hearing those stories just makes my passion for this grow stronger.”
"THE WAY THINGS USED TO BE, clothes were built to last. People would pass down clothes to their children. It’s still possible. If you use better materials, better machinery and put more care into the end product, you can create things that last years — and actually get better with age.”
"QUALITY OVER QUANTITY is a big thing for me. You spend a little more, but it’s about owning fewer — but better — things. Look for timeless styles that aren’t tied to trends. Eliminate overconsumption.”
"I WANT TO SEE THIS SPACE GROW, but what’s most important is educating people. Everyone who comes in the door, I tell them about slow fashion. I want them to be as passionate as I am.”