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October 5, 2020

Spotlight On: Outland Denim

Inextricably Linked

Climate change may be the most pressing issue of our time, and while concerns over the plight of our planet are certainly worrying, they tend to often overshadow the human factor. This is true of the fashion industry who in recent years has focused its attention largely on reversing the impact of climate change, making issues related to social justice and social equality secondary. 

For the Australian denim company, Outland Denim, human beings and the environment are inextricably linked. The two impact and influence each other. And while climate change may not necessarily discriminate, it is often the most vulnerable communities that suffer its consequences. Keeping this in mind, a 21st-century company can’t honestly believe they are “sustainable” if they don’t value and uphold social justice. Operating within planetary boundaries may be critical for companies to make the sustainability transformation successfully, but paying workers a living wage and providing people with the opportunity to have what Outland Denim Founding CEO, James Bartle refers to as a “sustainable career” is also crucial for the fashion industry to become a force for good in the world. 

For Bartle, a chance viewing of the 2008 film, Taken, promoted some soul-searching on the issue of human trafficking and how his company might play a role in eradicating it. Since then, the Outland Denim brand has become widely known for its efforts to address issues surrounding Modern Slavery, particularly within the fashion industry.

The Baroness and the Professor

To further enhance its efforts, the brand joined forces with the Baroness Lola Young of Hornsey and Professor Kevin Bales of the University of Nottingham. What might seem like an unlikely partnership has morphed into an effective coalition that draws upon the wisdom of academia and the power of policymaking and government. 

Baroness Young, a former actress and now a prominent and outspoken voice on the ethics of the garment industry has made inroads as a policymaker securing appointments at universities across the United Kingdom, while Bales’ academic research on anti-slavery movement has brought to the fore the research and findings surrounding the cyclical nature of trafficking and how it might be resolved in today’s 21st-century landscape. 

“We have incredible admiration for Baroness Lola Young’s work in the area of Modern Slavery. We believe that governments play a vital role, alongside business, to see an end to the problem,” said Sally Townsend, Head of Advocacy and Alignments at Outland Denim.

By working with the Baroness, who uses her position of influence to draw attention to human rights, especially within the garment industry, and lobby for legislation that can effectuate positive lasting change, Outland Denim has furthered its own cause, promoting awareness around human trafficking amongst fashion industry players. Working with Professor Bales has enhanced the brand’s understanding of how Modern Slavery (besides human trafficking this includes, forced labour, descent-based slavery, forced and early marriage, and slavery of children) continues to exist in the 21st century, and how brands have the power to implement change that can abolish widespread social injustices at all levels of the supply chain and also empower disenfranchised communities.

“We have for a long time followed Kevin Bales anti-slavery work and the industry-leading work of Nottingham’s Rights Lab in the area of Modern Slavery. We were delighted that Kevin was interested in a Case Study of Outland Denim’s unique approach to business that had ‘freedom’ at its core. Kevin’s understanding of the nature and complexity of Modern Slavery, along with his in-depth research into our operations, provides the highest authentication for our approach and its intended outcomes builds trust in our brand, its intentions and impact.”

– Sally Townsend, Head of Advocacy and Alignments, Outland Denim

The X factor: The Freedom Dividend

Building upon the wealth of knowledge and expertise Professor Kevin Bales and Baroness Lola Young has proved invaluable for a brand that was initially founded in response to the problem of Modern Slavery. 

Bales’ work, in particular, his theory of The Freedom Dividend has shed light on the root cause of Modern Slavery while at the same time, it has shown that when a society is able to end slavery, then and only then can it truly transform itself. This theory has enhanced the Outland Denim team’s own understanding of the many ills of 21st slavery and how they can effectuate real change that can make the world a better place. By learning how to work together with governments and activists, brands like Outland Denim can continue to make more informed decisions when it comes to social justice while at the same time gain the support of government institutions to realise their goals. 

By implementing academic research and policy into their business model, Outland Denim has shown industry players that this kind of collaborative business model can function as a positive way forward for the industry and the people it employs.

Learn more about Outland Denim.

Close CFS+ Programme
13th October Day 2
  • 3:00 - 4:15 PM CEST
    CFS Originals

    CFS Originals are pre-produced segments created by Global Fashion Agenda; they will take you behind the scenes, where you can meet the creative minds shaping our industry. CFS Originals is designed to provide entertainment, engagement, and education for all viewers.

    Click below to add the full 3:00 - 4:15 PM CEST Originals segment to your calendar, and scroll down to learn about each segment of CFS Originals.

    Re-watch here

    Gucci President and CEO, Marco Bizzarri, is one of our industry’s leaders driving change. Having launched the CEO Carbon Neutral Challenge late last year, he’s making bold commitments for Gucci - and leading by example with Gucci's own climate strategy. Eva Kruse will virtually meet Marco Bizzarri for an honest conversation about value, nature, tackling the climate crisis in the wake of COVID-19 and what’s needed next.

    Re-watch here

    Fashion is fun, fabulous and fancy, but did you know that fashion is also closely linked to biodiversity? This explainer explores the substantial negative impact that the fashion industry has had on the total variety of life on Earth, known as biodiversity. From there, it goes one step further by explaining how fashion can evolve from being part of the problem to being part of the solution – by highlighting different solutions.

    Re-watch here

    Together with her Co-Founder Amrit Kumar, Mriga Kapadiya is the Co-Founder, Creative Director and CEO of NORBLACK NORWHITE, a women-led, creative house and fashion label based in India. Systematic transformation drives Mriga Kapadiya’s Real Talk message, which celebrates the grey space of culture through style by shifting corporate success to a holistic approach.

    Re-watch here

    High volume fashion and planetary boundaries collide in an important conversation, framed by the theme Redesigning Value, from two different stakeholder positions; Helena Helmersson, CEO of H&M Group, meets Professor Johan Rockström, Director of Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research. This intimate and in-depth discussion takes place in Helena’s summer house in the Swedish forest.

    Re-watch here

    Can the idea of equal partnerships change the industry mindset and advance collective progress? This explainer digs deeper into two different types of supply chain partnerships: Transactional vs. Relationship based. Watch and learn what it takes for the industry to shape a common future stitched solidly together with trust and equal partnerships.

    Re-watch here

    Mostafiz Uddin, Managing Director of Denim Expert Ltd. and Founder and CEO of Bangladesh Apparel Exchange (BAE) will be representing the voice, culture and experience of millions of garment makers and factory owners during the pandemic. Mostafiz Uddin is meeting Eva Kruse in this essential discussion about equal partnerships and how to build mutually beneficial relationships.

    Re-watch here

    As one of the strongest voices on the need for equal partnerships in the value chain, Delman Lee, President and Chief Technology Officer of TAL Apparel Limited joins Eva Kruse for a conversation on what needs to change in the relationship between buyers and manufacturers to accelerate sustainability. This discussion will also go deeper into understanding how to forge better and more mutually rewarding partnerships.

    Re-watch here

    As her namesake brand Ahluwalia, which is known for exploring vintage and deadstock clothing, Priya Ahluwalia’s understanding of the industry’s circularity challenge drives this segment. Watch her incorporate stunning design elements from her dual Indian-Nigerian heritage and London roots with ground-breaking new labelling tech.

    Re-watch here

    Clare Farrell is a full-time Activist and Campaigner based in London and one of the Founders of Extinction Rebellion. Leadership, honesty and ancestry of planet Earth are all featured topics here, while a devotion to personal liberty drives this Real Talk through power imbalance and climate collapse.

    Re-watch here

    Under the headline theme of Redesigning Value, we’ve invited a diverse community of global fashion leaders to share their insight, experience and pioneering perspective. All 62 carefully selected voices from around the world are given the same set of questions for thoughtful responses.

    The Next Gen Voices format, presented by Pandora, gathers a varied collection of thoughts and viewpoints from a selected group of previous Youth Fashion Summit participants. The Youth Fashion Summit is an international sustainability platform for fashion students, founded in 2012 by Global Fashion Agenda.

    Every year, this growing community convenes to generate ideas and demands to the industry, and here within Next Gen Voices, the same spirit remains from a selection of passionate young leaders.

    Take a deep breath and find your center with Nike Master Trainer Branden Collinsworth as he leads the CFS+ community through a guided meditation, crafted to provide a moment of reflection and intention-setting.

    Re-watch here
  • 4:15 - 5:50 PM CEST

    Global Fashion Agenda and McKinsey & Company launched the Fashion on Climate report, concluding that if the fashion industry continues on its current path, it will miss the 2030 emissions reduction targets by 50%, thus generating twice the volume of carbon emissions required to reach the Paris Agreement.

    The Fashion on Climate report provides the underlying foundation for discussing this topic, and the panel will offer dynamic interaction, demystifying numbers and terminology while encouraging an open, organic exchange between participants.

    Re-watch here
    #systemchange #consumption

    The Covid-19 pandemic has underscored that the fashion industry system is broken – with overproduction, excessive discounting and an unsustainable calendar ill-suited to the UN Sustainable Development Goals. How can key players within the system collaborate to re-imagine how the industry can operate within planetary boundaries and be more inclusive and humane?

    Re-watch here
  • 4:15 – 6:15 PM CEST
    #redesign #equality

    The German EU Presidency has informally expressed a wish for “a smart mix of voluntary and mandatory measures and a smart mix of governmental and entrepreneurial measures” in the harmonisation of due diligence standards in the EU. The European Commission is also drafting a legislative proposal, with a draft report ongoing at the European Parliament level.

    This roundtable aims to better understand these wishes and to provide initial input from the industry to EU institutions.

  • 5:55 – 6:25 PM CEST
    #newmaterials #redesign

    Tap into how the creation of a 100% 3D printed sneaker was conceived and made possible despite limitations posed by the pandemic – through a cross-border collaborative effort from Creative Director Heron Preston (New York), Designer Daniel Bailey (London) and Engineer Cornelius Schmitt (Hamburg).

    Re-watch here
    #systemchange #redesign

    How can the fashion sector grow out of growth and transition to a world of LESS? The authors of Earth Logic, Professors Kate Fletcher and Mathilda Tham, talk to three leaders of change: an ecological economist, an entrepreneur and a journalist to get to the crux of LESS, including its economic implications, worker impacts and shifting behaviours.

    Join us in a game-changing exploration of Earth Logic, which examines why less is needed, how it can be done and who can do it.

    Re-watch here
    #equality #systemchange

    The COVID-19 Garment Industry Call to Action is a set of shared commitments by actors across the sector to address the crisis created by the pandemic. The commitments define priorities that include speeding access to emergency financing for both workers and employers and establishing stronger health and social protections to contribute to a more resilient industry in the future.

    During this deep dive case study, we will discuss the achievements of the effort to date, as well as the challenges ahead.

    Stream here
    #equality #systemchange

    COVID-19 has had an immeasurable impact on the fashion industry. With the quick shift to remote engagement, including corporate offices moving to remote work and factory audits taking place offsite – what are the implications for the future of work? How is the resulting explosion of digitalisation driving sustainability improvement across the value chain?

    Join Li & Fung, Fung Group and the International Labour Organization (ILO) to explore the pandemic’s impact on work and hear how Li & Fung is unlocking opportunities for improved sustainability via digitalisation.

    Re-watch here
  • 6:30 – 7:00 PM CEST
    #circularity #transparency

    Ahluwalia is known for exploring vintage and dead stock clothing, taking elements from the Creative Director’s dual Indian-Nigeran heritage and London roots. Priya Ahluwalia’s understanding of the industry’s difficulties within circularity drives her challenge on how to enable circular systems.

    This case study unlocks the vision behind her challenge, together with in-depth knowledge around how tech can enable circularity, presented by Michael Colarossi, VP of Innovation, Product Line Management and Sustainability at leading material science and innovation company Avery Dennison.

    Re-watch here
    #systemchange #consumption #transparency

    The Higg Index is designed to enable transparency. The Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC) and Higg Co have been working with brands and retailers on consumer-facing transparency pilots to understand how consumers react to sustainability performance data on a product level. Consumers report that they are interested in sustainability information on products, but they do not yet use the data to drive their purchasing behaviours.

    This session will discuss the future of Higg transparency and the learnings from testing it, as well as showcasing some examples.

    Re-watch here
    #climatechange #equality

    The case study will not only outline Timberland’s 2030 vision but also share insights into how the brand arrived at the bold goals that will drive its agenda for the next decade: from consumer insights and strategic frameworks, to supply chain partnerships and materials innovations and all the challenges faced along the way.

    Through this case study, Timberland hopes to inspire other brands and companies to pursue meaningful sustainability targets and work collectively towards a greener future.

    Re-watch here