It’s exciting to watch a brand grow up. And in the case of Australia-based Outland Denim, a sustainable denim brand focused on the empowerment of vulnerable populations, its first foray into ready-to-wear that includes a collection of dresses, shirting and two-piece sets shows that its sights are set on expansion.
The collection, called Reset, was created using the principles of The Maeka Standard, a sustainable practices metric system, which includes zero exploitation; living wages; true social impact; full supply chain transparency through blockchain technology; responsible sourcing; ecologically sound production; premium quality, and for Outland Denim, justice in the form of eradicating the human trafficking industry through the brand’s employment.
James Bartle, the founder of Outland Denim, told WWD, “With Reset, our new ready-to-wear collection, the brand wanted to go straight to the core of our wearer’s wardrobe and offer a range of elevated styles that would tie in well to their existing Outland Denim collection.”
“Selecting the most sustainable, premium organic fibers that make the garments feel amazing to wear was a priority, while our increased time spent at home due to the pandemic and customer interest in more relaxed options drove the overall shape of the range.” Bartle says key garments from the collection include the Sarah shirtdress and short, the Lisa skirt and Lilly dress, which are made from 100 percent hand-loomed fabric, resulting in each piece having a distinctly authentic finish that isn’t found with machine-made fabrics.
Its “Origins” T-shirts nod to the history of the brand, Bartle said, as they feature original artwork, hand-drawn by local Australian artist Nelson Nokela, and its designs reference the mountain ranges of Tamborine Mountain.
Fabrics were sourced from Five P, a vertically integrated apparel and textile fabric manufacturer that promotes and protects the textile weaving heritage in Chennimalai, Southern India. “With this range, we are proud to not only build a connection between our wearers and garment makers, but between wearers and the people who made the fabric, too,” Bartle said.
Described as “loose-fitting” and “wearable” pieces, the clothes are also impossibly chic and sexy — but Outland Denim remains rooted in its real purpose behind its product, which is a mission to educate, empower and provide freedom for vulnerable people, or sex-trafficking victims. Its collection is made entirely at its Cambodia-based manufacturing facilities, and the business model trains and employs women who have experienced sex trafficking and provides a sustainable career path for stable employment, support and genuine social change — and today, that community is 750 people strong.
Bartle told WWD that the brand is also working on ways to reduce textile waste by exploring methods of circularity through emerging material technologies. “We are currently working on some really exciting circularity research that we look forward to announcing later this year. This technology would revolutionize the way we deal with textile waste, and not only for our benefit as a brand but for the benefit of the whole industry.”
And additional pieces in loungewear will be released later this year, Bartle said. “While denim will always be the DNA of the brand, our expansion into ready-to-wear is just beginning.”
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