A simple T-shirt by Outland Denim delivers an important message.
The ethical denim brand released Friday the ‘Sucker for Humanity’ T-shirt to support the UN World Day Against Human Trafficking.
The tee “will provide direct opportunity, safe employment, education, support, and ultimately freedom to survivors of human trafficking and modern slavery,” the company stated. The Sucker for Humanity tee is made in Outland’s state-of-the-art production and finishing facilities in Cambodia, which provide its employees a living wage, education, and other benefits including training seamstresses across all aspects of garment making.
The Rights Lab of Nottingham University has shown the brand’s employment model creates a “freedom dividend,” or a domino effect of positive impact throughout the worker’s family and the wider community. In a study, participants showed measurable change in education, health, housing, socio-economic standing, low debt load and higher savings frequency. They also reported feeling more empowered and ambitious for their children, and had detailed plans for the future.
Available now on Outland Denim’s website, T-shirts sell for $90 each—the same average price of an enslaved person today, according to a report by Walk Free, a global organization with a mission to end modern slavery.
The tee is part of a broader campaign to shed light on modern slavery, which Outland reports impacts 40.3 million people globally, including one in every 130 women and girls and highlights the link between modern slavery and climate change.
The campaign follows new research from U.K.-based professors Kevin Bales and Benjamin K. Sovacool that draws a direct line between slavery and environmental issues, stating that “if modern slaves were a country, they would be the third-largest emitter of carbon dioxide in the world after China and the United States.” It also found that abolishing slavery is one of the most effective ways to mitigate climate change, with the costs of ending slavery equating to about $20 billion, or the expense of a single large nuclear power plant.
“Fashion is one of the most exploitative industries, both to people and our planet,” said James Bartle, Outland Denim founding CEO. “But we are proof that by re-thinking how we make fashion, we can combat modern slavery and put a serious dent in climate change at the same time. We need to stop thinking of the two as separate issues when they are two sides of the same coin.”
Outland recently gained 890 new shareholders during its second crowdfunding campaign last month, raising more than $898,000 to further its commitment to become “the peoples brand.” The cash infusion will be used to increase production capabilities so Outland can begin manufacturing for more brands, expand into more international markets and invest in research and development for waste and circular technologies—an area in which it’s already made significant progress. Outland committed to the circular requirements of the Ellen MacArthur Jeans Redesign Project for about 75 percent of its range.
Its first campaign in 2020 fueled Outland’s expansion goals and enabled it to not only maintain but also expand its workforce in Australia and Cambodia. It hired a new head of digital, head of ready-to-wear design, finance and operations manager, and production manager. With the funding, the company was able to grow its direct-to-consumer business by over 190 percent.