Combat modern slavery
Did you know that if modern slaves were collectively a country, they would be the third largest emitter of CO2 outside the USA and China?* Or that, in turn, climate change is a driver of modern slavery?
Illicit trades aren't usually known for their human or environmental concern. Nor is the fashion industry.
Our genesis as a company and brand began with the desire to tackle human trafficking, a form of modern slavery. Modern slavery is a US$150 billion industry affecting an estimated 50 million people globally; they are some of the world’s most vulnerable people. The global fashion industry is itself guilty of slavery and exploitation: G20 countries import an estimated $354 billion of products tainted by slave labour annually, and the fashion industry accounts for $127.7 billion of this.
The fashion industry is worth USD$1.7-$2.5 trillion, employing an estimated 430 million workers along its supply chain (from the farmers growing and processing cotton and other fibres to sewers at the cut-make-trim stage) – and with that kind of economic power and influence, we can either do a lot of harm, or a lot of good. We exist to do good.
Investment into people
If there are no people, there can be no sustainable development or course correction: it's up to us to steer the ship. From the people farming organic cotton to those developing more sustainable manufacturing technologies, we all have a part to play in conserving our planet for future generations.
Our investment into people starts with finding some of the most vulnerable to exploitation and elevating them out of situations of modern slavery or conditions adverse to human flourishing. We offer training, employment with living wages, upskilling, educational programs, and health care. Essentially, we equip, and hope that our people will become people in the community who give back to other people and the planet, too. Further down the food chain, we invest into suppliers who also equip and empower their workers, or who are invested in creating better businesses to do so.
In turn, our retailers and customers also become part of a fashion ecosystem that gives rather than takes. We want to create real, human connections and conversations that start with, “Are those Outland denims?”. The Outland Denim business model provides the platform, tools and resources for both our customers and employees to create change: to embody the universal need for hope, dreams and belonging (and damn good denim jeans).
It’s not lost on us as a brand that we are in a state of climate emergency. According to the targets set by the Paris Climate Agreement, there are only 27 years remaining to reach global net-zero emissions. Every year counts.
Calculating our annual carbon footprint, including direct and indirect emissions, has provided us with a better understanding of our environmental impact as a brand and how we are contributing to climate change.
In our 2022 Impact Report, we were proud to report that year-on-year, we have reduced our brand emissions by 36% across areas that we have control over (Scope One and Two) as well as those we indirectly contribute to (Scope 3). There are a few key areas of the business that are the greatest contributors to our emissions footprint. One of these, upstream freight, we have been able to reduce by 60% largely by prioritising sea over air freight.
The second of these key areas is purchased goods and services (i.e. goods procured through our supply chain and the products made and sold to Outland Denim by our Cambodian factories). This is the largest CO2 contributor to the business, accounting for between 50 and 60% of our overall emissions, which means our purchasing practises really matter: we’ve reduced emissions in this area by 29%. However, full disclosure: this is largely attributable to a change in methodology adopted between our 2021 and 2022 Impact Reports.*
Our emissions from “Use of Product Sold” (how our customers wear, care and repair their Outland Denim products over their lifetime) has increased 13% year-on-year relative to the volume of product purchased (i.e. more product sold = more emissions unless significant emissions reduction practises are adopted by our customers - i.e. stores and direct customers of Outland Denim.
As we work toward becoming an “Earth Positive” brand, depositing more goodness back into the Earth than we take, we are making a stop at Carbon Neutrality by offsetting those emissions that we can’t reasonably reduce in our operations. We have committed to doing so for FY23.