fashion

The Aussie denim brand making a difference to human trafficking, one pair of jeans at a time.

It’s not often you can say that by buying yourself a new pair of jeans, you’re changing the world.

With Outland Denim, it’s entirely true.

The recently relaunched Aussie denim brand is making a difference, one pair of jeans at a time – and seriously good ones at that.

The brainchild of CEO and founder James Bartle, every single pair contributes to the company’s goal of stopping human trafficking and transforming the lives of young girls in Cambodia who are targeted by traffickers and forced into the sex trade.

“While our knowledge of sex trafficking was first twigged by the Liam Neeson film Taken, it was a fortuitous encounter with anti-trafficking group Destiny Rescue at a music festival that really started to put things into action,” Communications Director Erica Bartle told Mamamia.

“James went with Destiny Rescue to Thailand and Cambodia to learn more about the issue and witness the work they were doing first-hand. He wanted to help and thought the most practical thing he could do was create work for the girls to enable them to utilise the vocational skills they gained during their restoration process.”

What started as a team of just five sewing staff as The Denim Project in 2011 has grown to a staff of 31 based in Cambodia.

“Beyond having a supportive, nurturing work environment to come to, the young women are so excited that people are actually buying and wearing their jeans. It gives them an immense sense of purpose and dignity, beyond the ability to provide for their families,” CEO James Bartle says.
Model Anna Pembroke shares the story of Neary, one of Outland Denim’s sewers. Grab the tissues. Post continues after video.

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Outland Denim Thank You facebook v3 from Outland Denim on Vimeo.

As well as providing safe employment options for the girls once they’ve been rescued, each pair sold online will also make a difference.

“We also donate AU$50 from every online jeans sale through outlanddenim.com to anti-trafficking groups on the front line who are rescuing and rehabilitating the girls. What THEY do is amazing,” she says.

The pair have already seen first hand the impact it can make.

“Probably the most impactful story to date is of a young woman who was eventually, through gainful employment with us, able to buy her family a rice field, put a roof on their home, buy a block of land for herself and, unbelievably, buy her sister out of bondage. She now has a daughter of her own,” says Bartle.

“What this suggests is that employment and skills help to protect not only victims of slavery and abuse, but those who are vulnerable, such as their sisters and daughters, from falling prey to this heinous human rights violation. That, to me, is amazing.

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“It’s not necessarily about the numbers – we wish we could help every single girl who had suffered abuse or exploitation – but the individuals. It’s only by virtue of our birthplace and circumstances that we, too, aren’t in their position. So I believe the onus is on us to help.”

This ethos expands to the environment too.

“We were purely driven by the social impact to start with, but soon discovered that the environmental impact of making jeans on often impoverished communities – which rely on cotton, dyes and other processes – could undermine the very thing we are trying to do; alleviate the circumstances of poverty and protect young girls from vulnerability,” she says.

The majority of Cambodians live in rural areas, largely reliant on agriculture and seasonal food shortages brought on my mass production can mean families are forced to alternatives in order to make ends meet.

“We take a ‘first, do no harm’ approach and endeavour to ensure that our whole supply chain is free of exploitation, that the practices our suppliers use are of the world’s best-standard, and that our end product can really be worn with a sense of pride because of the efforts that have gone into making it. Our future ranges utilise recycled or organic cotton fabrics.”

The brand’s debut line focuses on a wardrobe staple, the black skinny jean. There’s The Isabel for women available in a black or washed out dark grey or The Dusty for men in the same two washes. By December, the range will expand to include indigo styles too.

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Retailing from $189, the jeans will not only make your bum look great and serve you for years, but also give someone else something even better – a chance.

“We are just so grateful to have the support of the Australian community. Buying our jeans will make a genuine difference in the life of the young women we employ,” says Bartle.

‘The sustainable employment gives each of our sewers the security of never having to contemplate returning to the sex industry or going into a garment factory where the conditions aren’t necessarily going to be able to help her to heal from trauma, or earn a living wage without putting in incredible amounts of overtime, which leaves her little time to attend to her family.”

The brand also offers free shipping and free return shipping should your chosen pair not fit, so you can shop online 100 per cent risk free.

Great jeans, a great cause and the ability to ensure vulnerable women are given the support and opportunity they deserve so they don’t need to return to sex work in order to earn living wage? We’re sold.

Image: Instagram/@outlanddenim.

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