Outland Denim is more than just a good-looking pair of jeans. The Australian denim line stands out for its unique business model: employing victims of human trafficking in Cambodia. On the pocket lining of every pair of Outland Denim jeans, you can find the name of, and a short note from, the woman who handmade them.
As Australia’s first certified B Corporation denim brand, a designation that speaks to the company’s social and environmental sustainability efforts, Outland Denim provides its workers with a new career path and viable economic opportunity. When asked about the inspiration behind the company, founder James Bartle recalls a story of personal awakening. “It was really a culmination of education in the issue of human trafficking, which was triggered by seeing the movie Taken, catalyzed by a trip to Thailand and Cambodia with an NGO doing work in the realm of trafficking, and galvanized by seeing a very young and nervous-looking teenaged girl prostituting herself on the streets of Thailand that wasn’t much older than my nieces,” says Bartle. “That was the moment I thought, ‘I have to do something.’ ”
A strong commitment to social sustainability never goes out of style.
Working closely with an NGO in Cambodia, Outland Denim was created, offering living-wage, skilled work to a vulnerable group of women at its factory, located a few hours north of Phnom Penh. “[We wanted to provide] safe, viable vocational training and employment to mitigate the risk of re-trafficking or falling back into poverty, which puts them in precarious positions,” explains Bartle. “We had five young women initially come into our training and employment program, two of whom remain with us seven years later and are remarkable in every way.”
Earlier this year, Outland Denim’s classically-styled, ethically-made jeans launched in Canada at Harry Rosen and Holt Renfrew’s H Project. For fall, the brand will be introducing additional styles for both men and women, and will become more widely available at retail locations across Canada.
Priced from $235 to $245, Outland’s jeans are made with denim created from sustainably-sourced raw materials, including organic cotton blends that are both comfortable and durable. Simply styled and embellishment-free, the curated collection of mainly slim-fitting blue and black jeans are designed to have a timeless appeal—besides, a strong commitment to social sustainability never goes out of style.
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