We’re coming together as a global community to shine the spotlight on the importance of a fair and safe fashion industry.
April 24, 2021 marks 8 years since the Rana Plaza factory collapse in Bangladesh, a disaster that killed 1,138 people and injured many more. The devastation not only highlighted the need for an end to human and environmental exploitation but prompted calls for a global fashion industry culture shift from the inside out. Since then, Fashion Revolution has become the world’s largest fashion activism movement, with a vision of an industry that conserves and restores the environment and values people over profit.
With a call for transparency by asking “Who Made My Clothes?”, this Fashion Revolution Week we’re shining a spotlight on some of our favourite Mindfully Made brands and the makers behind them.
Founded as an avenue for the training and employment of women who have experienced sex trafficking, Outland Denim is committed to creating a foundation for true social change. As Australia’s first denim brand to become a certified B corporation, we sat down with founding CEO James Bartle to discover what Fashion Revolution means to him.
The theme for this year’s Fashion Revolution Week is ‘Rights, relationships and revolution’, calling for a radical shift in our relationships with one another, our clothes, our supply chains and the natural world. What does this mean to your brand?
To us, there is so much power in connecting makers and wearers. For so long the issues and harmful impact of the industry have been out of sight and out of mind. It’s not something anyone wants to have a hand in. But when you have the opportunity to put a face or a name to the individuals within the supply chain and say ‘this is who actually made my clothes’, it sparks humanity, empathy, and a sense of community. We try to create this sense of connection by printing a ‘Thank you’ message on the inside of our garments, written by one of the people who made your Outland Denims. The relationship between makers, brands, and wearers is important, but we also cannot forget about the critical importance of also including lawmakers, researchers, and the earliest stages of the supply chain in these conversations.
“Social justice is the reason we exist and along the way, we discovered all of these different ways we could have a further impact, socially and environmentally.”
James Bartle, CEO of Outland Denim
Can you shine a spotlight on your supply chain, sharing with us the makers you work with and the materials you source?
Outland Denim’s point of difference is that we manage our own tier 1 production, meaning we have greater control over how our garments are made, and in turn a stronger connection to those who made them. We practice revolutionary social standards.
Our unique business model is designed to create a cycle of empowerment for those in need, by providing opportunity, a safe and supportive working environment, a living wage, training, health care, and education to people who have experienced or are at risk of experiencing modern slavery, exploitation, or abuse. Employment with Outland Denim can be transformational in the lives of their team. Each garment is made with organic cotton, zero harmful chemicals, and innovative water and energy-reducing technology. As Australia’s first denim brand to become a certified B Corporation, our sustainability efforts go well beyond production. Outland Denim knows the complete journey of our denim from Tier 1 to Tier 5, and in 2020 we launched the Supply Network Intelligence System in partnership with Precision Solutions Group (PSG) and Nudie Jeans to support communities in the earliest and most vulnerable stages of the fashion supply chain.
How far has your brand come on the road to transparency and sustainable practice, and where do you hope to go?
Social justice is the reason we exist and along the way, we discovered all of these different ways we could have a further impact, socially and environmentally. We set out to clean up the dirty side of denim by using innovative water and energy-saving technology, transitioned to 100% vegan production, built an on-site medical facility as well as a Learning Centre for our team, and have developed programs to support communities at the earliest and most vulnerable stages of our supply chain.
But there are more challenges to be faced as an industry, we don’t claim to have all the answers, but we do strive to find them. We are currently working on some really exciting circularity research that we look forward to announcing later this year. This technology would revolutionise the way we deal with textile waste, and not only for our benefit as a brand but for the benefit of the whole industry.
What makes you hopeful for the future of fashion?
The enormity of the issues we face as an industry is at times overwhelming and makes you wonder how we as individuals can really make an impact. In a recent report by Baptist World Aid, it was estimated that a garment purchased in Australia or New Zealand has passed through 100 pairs of hands before it even reaches the wearer. And so although the numbers are overwhelming, there is hope. After all, this means that for every garment you buy, you have the opportunity to have a positive impact on the lives of 100 people. Think of what could be achieved if fashion was used as a vehicle for good.
For Natalie Marie, the intention to create consciously is part of the brands DNA. As a jewellery designer and manufacturer who has watched her eponymous label grow from a single person team to a team of over 30 like-minded individuals, Natalie Marie places the utmost importance on the need to create responsibly and source mindfully to ensure that all of the brand’s pieces are produced sustainably and ethically. From sourcing and production to setting, finishing and packaging, their handcrafted and in-house process in their Sydney studio not only keeps a close eye on their supply chain but supports local makers while also providing the opportunity to minimise the amount of waste within their work.
When it comes to Melbourne-based Nobody Denim, sustainable business is good business. On a journey to be a leading advocate of good business practice, Nobody believes in a triple bottom line approach that sees people and the planet as integral to their decision-making and direction. Their team of over 80 people at their in-house design and production studios enable the brand to respond to trends and street style in real-time, all while minimising their carbon footprint. With a supply chain within a 6km radius, Nobody works closely with The Textile Clothing and Footwear Union of Australia (TCFUA) along with Sustainability Victoria to not only meet, but go above and beyond legal and environmental production requirements.
Sydney based womenswear label Jillian Boustred is focused on quality, comfort and styles that have longevity. With 90% of the label’s garments Made In Australia using a transparent production line from start to finish, Jillian Boustred prioritises the use of natural fibres and ethical production through their work with local makers.
With a promise to be at the forefront of sustainable designer fashion globally, KITX is committed to being an example of true style for the modern global era. Led by celebrated designer Kit Willow, the brand approaches responsible sourcing using three pillars that prioritise recycling waste into new materials and working with natural fibres, as well as calling for a revival of the hand-worker economy to increase global workforce inclusivity, improve women’s wellbeing beyond factories and preserve important cultural traditions around the world.
Did you know that beauty packaging can be a challenge to recycle?
Most items have packaging that is made up of numerous materials resulting in it being not accepted in kerbside recycling. That’s why we’ve introduced BeautyCycle, a specialised beauty recycling program that recycles what can’t be put into the kerbside recycling bin. This way, valuable materials aren’t lost to landfill but can be recycled to make new products. Transforming the way we think about waste so materials stay in use out of the environment.
Simply bring your clean empty items to designated BeautyCycle units located in all David Jones beauty departments*. Our partnership with TerraCycle® ensures materials collected are sorted and recycled.
*Currently available in Aus stores only