Sustainable denim brands Outland Denim and Nudie Jeans are on a mission to end modern slavery, starting at the source.
In partnership with IT company Precision Solutions Group (PSG), the brands launched the Supply Network Intelligence System, a program that seeks out and works to resolve instances of deliberate exploitation, slavery and unsafe working conditions. The program’s first order of business is supporting workers at Turkey’s organic cotton farms, which supply both brands with the cotton they use to create their denim.
And while many of the conversations around sustainability focus on factories and suppliers, this first initiative will focus solely on farmers. According to Nudie Jeans CEO Joakim Levin, these workers are often some of the most vulnerable, as supply chain transparency deteriorates as it gets closer to the source.
“We see this program as a great possibility for us and the entire fashion industry to get insight and visibility in the part of the textile chain not often visible,” said Levin. “By collaborating, we have a chance to target and support vulnerable groups in the textile supply chain with the aim of improving their working conditions.”
The program is set up in a way that allows facilitators to promptly investigate reports of human rights violations and communicate them to stakeholders, government bodies and NGOs for resolution.
Through the program, which has already reached 1.5 million individuals, 150 communications have been arranged with the human rights hotline, ranging from reports of pay discrimination to unsafe working conditions, and 370 vulnerable individuals have benefited from the distribution of Covid-19 prevention kits.
To support an even wider network of vulnerable workers, James Bartle, founding CEO of Outland Denim, is calling on the entire industry to get involved.
“We think this project has the power to revolutionize the fashion industry.” He said. “It isn’t just about eliminating exploitation from only Outland Denim’s supply chain—that’s simply not how supply chains work. This project represents a way brands, such as Outland Denim and Nudie, can collaborate for the benefit of the entire industry and the people who work in it.”
Bartle shared a similar sentiment just last week, when he worked with the University of Nottingham Rights Lab to publish a report that directly correlated the end of slavery with a more fruitful economy. By sharing the report’s findings, he hoped again to unite the industry in the fight against slavery within fashion supply chains.
Nudie Jeans is also a strong supporter of ethical business practices. The denim brand’s reuse and repair program promotes intentional consumption and encourages customers to continuously repair their jeans as needed rather than discard them. At the end of the jean’s lifecycle, Nudie Jeans will accept them for resale or recycle.