James Bartle based Outland Denim after watching the movie Taken.
It’s not usually you hear somebody say “Liam Neeson modified my life.” However that’s principally what occurred to James Bartle, founding father of Australia’s Outland Denim. The previous freestyle motocross rider was rocked by the 2008 motion movie Taken, which stars Neeson as a retired CIA operative determined to rescue his daughter from intercourse traffickers.
In 2011, an opportunity encounter with the anti-trafficking group Future Rescue took Bartle to Asia, the place he visited Thailand and Cambodia and got here nose to nose with feminine survivors of human trafficking. “I couldn’t flip my again as soon as I noticed,” says Bartle of assembly women as younger as 13 who’d been bought into the intercourse commerce. “I’ve two little women of my very own. It’s urgent that I battle this downside.”
With media experiences of slave auctions in Libya and mass abductions of schoolgirls in Nigeria, the problem of human trafficking may be very a lot an issue right now. The Worldwide Labour Workplace (ILO) estimates that in 2016, 40.three million individuals have been embroiled in “fashionable slavery”—24.9 million of them in forced-labour conditions and 15.four million in pressured marriages.
After 5 years of analysis, Bartle got here to consider that poverty is what most frequently leaves individuals susceptible to traffickers. So he based Outland Denim with a manufacturing unit in rural Cambodia that employs individuals who have been rescued from trafficking or sexual exploitation or those that have been deemed “in danger.”
Whereas in Toronto to speak about Outland Denim, Bartle explains how the manufacturing unit that began with simply 5 employees now has 65 staff who’ve been educated to work within the attire trade and earn a “residing” wage, not simply minimal wage. “It is a [financially] sustainable mannequin, nevertheless it’s solely sustainable should you produce an attractive product that individuals need,” he says.
As for selecting to concentrate on denim, the style trade’s “dirtiest” merchandise, Bartle says that Outland makes use of natural cotton and natural vegetable dyes. “If we’re going to scrub one thing, it means we filtrate it,” he says. “All of the stuff that washes out can be utilized for different issues.” (An in depth breakdown of the provision chain, course of and enterprise mannequin lives on the corporate web site.) All of it sounds nice, however with environmentally savvy shoppers beginning to rethink each single clothes buy, can style ever be regarded as a constructive factor?
“Yeah,” says Bartle, nodding his head with unbridled optimism. “We needed to develop a mannequin that’s scalable and transferable. That is about creating change within the trade.” He then tells the story of an worker who recently purchased her sister again from traffickers. “These girls are a few of the most bravenessous you’ll ever meet. And we don’t make the change for them—we give them the instruments.”