In episode 193, Kestrel welcomes James Bartle, the Founding CEO of Outland Denim, to the show. Outland crafts premium denim jeans designed to bring the worlds of their seamstresses and their customers closer together. They made history as the first-ever denim brand to win the Thomson Reuters Stop Slavery Award in 2020.

“It’s like they absorb history — they’re kind of like a song where they take you back to a memory and it’s for that reason that you don’t throw out a beautiful, premium pair of jeans even when they’re worn out — you want to leave them in your cupboard because of those memories that are associated with that product. And again, I think that’s what gives it so much power in being able to impact people.”
-James Bartle, Founding CEO of Outland Denim

On this week’s show, James shares more on how he went from being a freestyle motorbike rider to building a denim brand, after learning more deeply about the realities of human trafficking.

James also shares that with Outland Denim’s model, their seamstresses are trained on all the intricacies to construct a beautiful pair of jeans, so in their manufacturing, their employees actually sew entire garments. Typically in factories, sewers only sew one component of the garment repeatedly.

As James says, “I guess the reason that we don’t see that as a viable or sustainable option is that it really does trap her into a much smaller variety of opportunities for her to be able to progress in her career and work life.”

The below thoughts, ideas + organizations were brought up in this chat:

  • “I think one of the keys in the success that we’ve been able to have on a social level is that we recognize that we can’t make the change for them — we just need to give them the tools for them to make the changes in their lives themselves.”

  • “You know — often a brand will have a sustainable collection or a sustainable line — you know, to me that just says you’re not a sustainable brand.”

  • "Sustainable brand Outland Denim feels the Markle effect with a 948% increase in traffic", article on Harper’s Bazaar, October 2018 

  • Outland was able to employ 46 new seamstresses as a result of Meghan Markle wearing their product

  • Outland Denim’s equity crowdfunding LIVE webinar on April 2nd, 2020 at 9am PST // register here >

  • Follow @consciouschatter for more details on the LIVE series launching on The Sustainable Fashion Forum's Instagram next week!