5 Reasons Why You'll Feel Good About Shopping Outland Denim
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It’s no secret that the fashion industry has its downsides. In addition to being one of the world’s most-polluting industries, the practices encouraged by fast fashion are often less-than-ethical. While it may be easy to get caught up in the negativity, there are alternatives. By supporting brands that align themselves with socially and environmentally conscious ideals, we can begin to turn the tides and work towards a more moral industry.
One such brand that is working hard to change the scene is Outland Denim. With a focus on transparency, Outland Denim ensures that every aspect of the garments it produces are creating more good than harm within this notoriously-destructive industry. By building its own production house and employing local community members, the brand is simultaneously helping to keep young women out of the sex trafficking while also making sure that its garments are produced in a way that doesn’t harm our planet.
To say that the brand’s level of commitment to doing good is inspiring would be an understatement. Outland Denim far surpasses other brands in its involvement, and we couldn’t help but wonder what this looks like from the inside. To get a little perspective, we spoke with the brand’s founder James Bartle. From the decision behind producing in Cambodia to inspiring stories from the seamstresses, scroll on to read five reasons why you can feel good about shopping the brand.
It Runs Its Own Production House
Outland denim runs its own production house in Cambodia: “We know each one of our seamstresses by name; we know their stories”, Barlte shares. After working with an NGO to determine where there was a need for employment, the brand’s production house was established in a province outside of Phnom Penh. “We are still there seven years later. The people of Cambodia we know are like extended family, and the township where our production house is located is like a second home.”
It Protects The Young Women It Employs From Human Rights Abuses
Bartle explained to us that for women working in the production house, Outland Denim is socially protective in ways that other means of making ends meet may not be. “We pay a living wage, provide a positive, encouraging workplace environment, training, and various other life-enhancing support services and opportunities. So from the get-go our customer can be assured that the person or people who made their jeans were happy while they were doing it.” And so far, that seems to be the case. Since the brand’s conception, multiple examples have accumulated proving the positive impact of the brand.
“There have been so many amazing stories!”, Bartle shared. “One of the most recent involved a girl who went through our training program. This girl’s mother died four years ago and her father lost his leg during the reign of the Khmer Rouge. Her four older brothers had left to look for work in Phnom Penh, leaving her as the oldest, able-bodied provider at home with her father. The police recognised the danger she was in, living with her father in government-supported housing and literally scavenging after wedding parties to try to put enough food on the table. They brought her to the attention of an NGO who had been working with and providing for her up until her employment with Outland.” To say that her employment helped transform her life is an understatement: “She's now one of our valued seamstresses. Skills and employment for her means freedom. It means the ability to take money to her father and two younger sisters, who are also at risk. This is a young woman who has already known the stress of seeing family members in desperation. It is incredibly empowering to so many of these young women to just find sustainable employment.”
Because of Outland Denim’s involvement in the production of its garments from the very beginning, the brand is able to ensure that during every step of the way the process is an ethical one. Unlike other brands, Outland Denim is able to trace the supply chain “back even further than the cut-make-trim floor, to the cotton fields, to ensure that those involved in [the] business are doing things the right way”
Though we’d all like to assume that our favourite clothing brands are fairly ethical with little to hide, Barlte points out that this is not usually the case. “Some brands are prepared to call the consumer bluff and carry on with their practises because they know that a large proportion of people are too busy or too preoccupied to care or look into how their garments are made.” However, the brand’s sentiment towards transparency stretches beyond just the founder’s beliefs. In the current moment, there's a real consumer sentiment toward transparency and authenticity, sustainability and ethical business—people don't want to be hoodwinked into buying something that has a cheap aftertaste because it was badly made in the sense that the ethics behind the garment were compromised.” So in being transparent the entire way through, Outland creates garments that we can look and feel good about.
In addition to being transparent in terms of production, Outland Denim’s attention to the environment is nothing short of inspiring. In the brand’s efforts to aid vulnerable communities the correlation between these communities and the environment became increasingly clear to Bartle. With a focus on meeting the highest standards for environmental stewardship, Outland Denim uses organic cotton, “which utilises 91 percent less blue water (fresh surface or groundwater sources) than conventional cotton” as well as dyes derived from plant sources.
“There is still a real mentality of ‘quickest, easiest, cheapest’ in the fashion industry, but discerning consumers are onto the idea that real value is from knowing something was well made, made to last and without a human or environmental cost,” according to Bartle. And we couldn’t agree more, but sometimes it can seem difficult to know where a brand’s values really lie. Bartle broke it down for us, noting that “In the current climate, if a brand isn't at least subtly suggesting that it is ethically made or sustainable, then chances are that it's not…Brand websites should feature supply chain information, or, at the least, a modus operandi around ethics and sustainability.”
Last but certainly not least, Outland Denim not only does good—but the jeans also look good. Just take a look at the brand’s most popular Isabel black skinny jeans for proof. Universally flattering, expertly cut, and made in a way that you can feel good about… what more could you want?
“People are regularly commenting on the fit and comfort level. They will put on our jeans and be amazed by how they feel”, and Bartle firmly believes that all the efforts behind the brand are what make this possible. “We've sourced premium European denim” he shares. “There's no scrimping on quality, or anything with our jeans.” We couldn’t have said it better ourselves; from quality, to style, to the ethical aspect, everything about Outland Demin has been thoroughly thought out with the best intentions in mind.
Cetainly an outlier in the industry, Outland Denim is proving that attention to detail—in every aspect, from production to fit—should be accounted for. While the brand’s ethical and environmental awareness far surpasses most denim brands out there, we hope that this is only one of many examples to come. Hopefully by supporting brands like Outland Denim, we can all help to instigate a change in which other brands follow the lead of those with more awareness, as Outland Denim is proving to be possible.
If you’re feeling good about Outland Denim and what it stands for, shop the jeans on the brand's site. If you’re in need of new jeans, why not vote with your dollar and support a sustainable and ethical brand to encourage change within the market—as well as ensuring your moral beliefs align with your everyday practices?