12 Mar

Outland Denim: Building A Future For Vulnerable Women

Jeans aren’t a throw-away item (at least they shouldn’t be), rather they are the heroes in our wardrobes, the one that get better with age and the item you’re most likely to reach for in a rush.

Many of us even have a favourite denim brand to which we remain decidedly loyal, especially if they hug us in the right spots, they are the perfect length, they are a favourite wash.

But what if your favourite denim brand did all of this and liberated women who had survived human trafficking?

“We’re the world’s most humanitarian denim brand. Though it sounds haughty!” says James Bartle, Outland Denim’s founder and stout-hearted CEO. The brand’s business model was set up to foster lasting social change creating otherwise non-existent jobs for vulnerable women. Of course, the brand is completely environmentally responsible in its practices; the two are inextricably connected.

Outland Denim was built to provide an avenue for training, employment and career progression for women who have experienced or are at risk of experiencing human trafficking and other social injustices. This model is combined with a devotion to perfecting seamstress’ skills, the quality of the design and product, the supply chain and social policies.

Equally, the brand is focussed on designing jeans to live out a long residency in your wardrobe. “Timeless, flattering, and extremely comfortable, our customers love to live in their Outland Denims,” says James. “The passion for creating beautiful denim products followed our desire to affect real social change,” says James.

Denim with a difference

From the outset, Outland has been committed to working with organic cotton, which uses 91% less water than conventional cotton. Prioritising natural indigo dyes, derived from Indigofera plant species, has also helped to eliminate the major threats to the environment and human health associated with synthetic indigo dyes.

Driven by an ethos of #ZeroExploitation, the brand has a dedicated Social and Environmental Impact Manager who ensures that every element of its supply chain, from the cotton farm to the courier, aligns with its values.

“Because of the nature of our workforce, we are one of only a few denim brands to own its manufacturing facility; usually, the cut-make-trim cycle is outsourced,” says James. “We know about everything and everyone who works for us. For us, making premium denim is personal.” That’s why inside each pair of Outland Denims, you’ll find a thank you message from one of the seamstresses who made it.

What’s more, a new state-of-the-art Outland Denim wash house is also in the works. “This new venture will bring exciting opportunities, not only creating more jobs but allowing us to have greater control of our environmental footprint,” says James, proudly. “We cannot wait to bring you the amazing new designs and washes that we have been able to create using the world’s leading new technology.”

A flow on effect

We started working with five seamstresses. Today we have 70 working with us, and with them, we have been able to create a product of an amazing standard that is carried across international borders, in some of the world’s top department stores, and into the wardrobes of many people, including one very famous Duchess.

James Bartle – Outland Denim’s founder

Outland’s business model is having a life-changing effect on these women and by extension their families and the wider community. “One of our original seamstresses was able to put a roof on her family’s home, plant a rice field and buy her sister out of servitude,” tells James, “so the impact of employing just one young woman in a position of vulnerability can be phenomenal; it flows on to her family, her younger siblings, her children.”

Working towards a brighter future

New styles including Outland’s very first skirt named the Florence, denim in statement white, and the first ever range of leather-free garments are set to launch in early 2019.

But longer term, the goal remains the same for James and the Outland Denim team: taking the business model and using it create true, measurable, generational social change in vulnerable communities around the world.

Outland Denim

Rated: Great

Outland Denim makes premium denim jeans and offers ethical employment opportunities for women rescued from human trafficking in Cambodia.

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Editor's note: Images courtesy of Outland Denim. This is a sponsored article. We collaborate with brands that are rated Good or Great to celebrate their work, and help us fund ours

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