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For Outland Denim, Equity Crowdfunding and Social Change Are Linked

Outland Denim’s founder and CEO James Bartle took to Facebook Live last week to personally invite consumers to invest in his company.

Earlier this year, the company unveiled an equity crowdfunding initiative that lets consumers, and not just private investors, own part of the brand through Australian crowdfunding platform Birchall. The concept is a new one for Australia, which just recently made this kind of crowdfunding legal.

Through the platform, consumers can invest in the brand with as little as $250. And, as a brand that was founded to create positive social change, investors are supporting more than just a fashion statement.

Outland Denim was founded in 2011 as a denim brand on a humanitarian mission, as it employs at its Cambodian facilities women who are vulnerable to exploitation . It also provides them with educational and financial support so they can reclaim their independence. The brand has received accolades such as the Thomson Reuters Foundation’s Stop Slavery Award, as well as multiple recognitions from the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal Awards for its social and environmental efforts.

Despite this, Bartle wants to make it clear that Outland Denim is not a charity.

“We are not a charity; we’re not a giveback program; we’re not aid. We are a business,” Bartle said in the webcast. “We are a for-profit business. In fact, that’s what makes this so powerful. We believe that if business is going to exist, every person along the way should benefit.”

With the funding, Bartle plans to double down on strategic partnerships, and manufacture for other brands. In the webcast, he debuted news that the company will begin manufacturing for Karen Walker, a brand Outland Denim previously collaborated with on a workwear-inspired capsule collection.

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And while the coronavirus pandemic has challenged the industry—and the world—the founder is optimistic that the brand will be poised for the future. He noted that the company is fully stocked with necessary raw materials and that the staff is remaining safe at home, and added that the pandemic is an opportunity to reset and reflect on what’s most important as a company.

“There’s going to be a greater need than ever before for brands to have a compelling story,” he said. “The marketplace will be thinned out, as lots of brands unfortunately won’t make it through this. But it will make way for brands like Outland Denim to have a greater impact and more dominance in the market.”

According to Bartle, Outland Denim is able to make a greater positive social and environmental change when consumers are fully invested in the brand.

“We want to benefit as many people as possible, and that means you as an investor,” he said in the webcast. “We want you to make more money from this than you would from your traditional investments. [By doing so], we’ll have a greater ability to influence an industry. If we influence an industry to changing their behavior to produce responsibly in this way, then the impact that can be had on the world will be far greater than just Outland denim attacking this problem.”

Consumers can search for the brand on the Birchall site and express interest by April 9, which will secure their opportunity to become a shareholder. Offers will then open to the public on April 14 and remain open for four weeks.