In 2008 I went to the cinema with my wife to see the film Taken, a fictional film inspired by the very real $150 billion illicit trade of human beings. It was my first introduction to the world of human trafficking and I was driven to learn more.
I later found the opportunity to travel to Asia with an anti-trafficking group and saw first hand what it was like on the ground, and how human traffickers prey on vulnerable young girls. I learnt that once a girl has been rescued and integrated into her family or community, a sustainable career path is vital for securing her future.
From here the foundations of Outland Denim were laid. We would become an avenue for training, employment, and career progression for women who have experienced, or are at risk of experiencing, sex trafficking.
We first welcomed five aspiring seamstresses who had been recommended by a non-government organisation (NGO) in Cambodia. These women needed work in a safe space owing to their experiences of exploitation.
From humble beginnings began the steep learning curve that is picking up a specialised craft from scratch, from experiments in pattern making and stone washing in a cement mixer, to establishing a manufacturing process that began with pedal press sewing machines and hot-coal irons in remote Cambodian villages.
Today, we have opened our doors to welcome over 100 staff from varying backgrounds of vulnerability into our stand-alone, owned and operated Cambodian facilities. We know each of them by name, and together we have been able to create a premium product worn and loved by people the world over.
Our environmental mission began in earnest following on from our social mission, as some of the world’s most vulnerable peoples are also affected the most by environmental degradation.
We have a unique business model that proves fashion can be the solution to some of the world’s most pressing social and environmental issues.
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