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Outland Denim recognised for anti-trafficking work

Australian jeans brand Outland Denim has been shortlisted for the 2020 Stop Slavery Award, presented annually by the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Other businesses shortlisted for the award include Coca-Cola, IBM and Aldi UK. Outland Denim was shortlisted in the SME category.

Founder James Bartle said the recognition was particularly significant since he started Outland Denim in 2011 to empower people vulnerable to human trafficking through employment.

The brand not only provides a job and living wage to approximately 100 people in its manufacturing facilities in Cambodia, it also trains workers so they have the opportunity to become skilled seamstresses and offers classes in English language, first aid and basic finances.

“To be shortlisted for this award holds particular significance for us, it represents exactly why Outland Denim was created,” Bartle said.

“This award is a testament to the huge power small and medium-size businesses can have in eradicating forced labour and contributing to positive social change in vulnerable communities, while inspiring others in their field to do the same.”

Bartle said Outland Denim would be sharing more of its progress on this front in its inaugural sustainability report due to be released in April. This is likely to include its more recent efforts to reduce its environmental impact.

“While Outland Denim was founded as a vehicle for social change, we don’t believe that you can talk about social sustainability without addressing or environmental sustainability too, so we’ve been focusing on investing into projects to reduce the negative impact our jeans have on the environment, and clean up the dirty side of denim,” Bartle told Internet Retailing.

“One of our greatest achievements came last year in the form of our new stand-alone wash and finishing facility.”

This facility, where the brand puts the finishing touches on its jeans, is equipped with state-of-the-art water and energy-reducing technology, such as Laser, Ozone, and E-flow, and gives Outland Denim greater control over its environmental impact. It also enables it to provide more career opportunities for staff.

The brand is releasing its next collection called State of Being on March 1, which will be the first to land in Nordstrom and Bloomingdales in the US, as well as the first to land in David Jones’ new Elizabeth Street flagship store in Sydney and in its men’s department.

“It’s also our first 100 per cent vegan collection and the first to feature our new rigid denim,” Bartle said.

Outland Denim this month also launched its What Did Your Jeans Do campaign, which is all about starting a discussion around the power of consumers’ purchases, including how their jeans were made and the impact they can have on the people that made them.

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