Mount Tambourine-based business Outland Denim focuses on empowering women and minorities. The company’s story began when founder James Bartle encountered an anti-trafficking group and travelled to Asia, seeing first hand how vulnerable young girls were abused by human traffickers.

Once rescued and rehabilitated, a sustainable career path was essential for these girls to secure a safe future. With this knowledge, James began the Denim Project to help girls with an interest in sewing to use their skills and forge a path. “I’ve always lived in jeans. If you were going to produce anything, why wouldn’t you produce the most staple part of a person’s wardrobe? Jeans aren’t a throw-away item, but something you keep for years,” James said.

From there, James and company began the journey of Outland Denim, which included experimenting in pattern making, sourcing raw materials and stone washing in a cement mixer, and setting up a manufacturing process that began with pedal sewing machines and hot-coal irons in remote Cambodian villages. “Today we have created a clean, bright training and production facility in Cambodia from where we manage our manufacturing operations and oversee the holistic care of our staff through wage and personal development initiatives. We are committed to sourcing the most ethically and environmentally sound raw materials, from organic cotton pocket linings to recycled packaging, and endeavour to verify our entire supply chain in alignment with the world’s best practices.” Each seamstress is known by name, earns a living wage and is given support to build a bright future for themselves.

The business recently received a royal welcome when Duchess of Sussex Meghan Markle was seen wearing its designs during the royal pair’s trip to Australia for the Invictus Games. The Duchess’ fashion had been a hot topic among Australians and the local business was clearly overwhelmed to see a famous face wearing their items. “We’re still singing in the rain over the Duchess in Outland Denim (but can you blame us!?) We cannot thank you enough for all the messages of support you have sent our way in the past 24 hours,” wrote the brand on its official Instagram page. Business Queensland also offered its congratulations, writing, “A big congrats to Outland Denim who have outdone themselves… We are very proud- a great story of #QLDsmallbiz (Queensland small business) success while being global citizens, sourcing environmentally sound materials and offering training and employment opportunities to women rescued from human rights abuses.”

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