An Australian denim label loved by Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, has been named one of the world’s most innovative sustainable fashion businesses.
Outland Denim is one of ten businesses honoured in the 2019CO Leadership Awards, awarded by fashion technology and business platform Common Objective (CO).
The award was judged by representatives from the British Fashion Council, GQ and Vogue Australia magazine, fashion label Vivienne Westwood and luxury ecommerce retailer Farfetch. The award celebrates “disruptors” in the sustainable fashion space.
Outland Denim was started by James Bartle in 2011 and works with Cambodian women who have been rescued from trafficking to teach them new skills while also paying a fair wage and offering training and employment opportunities.
The brand uses sustainable materials such as organic cotton and recycled fabric waste.
Bartle said it was an "honour" to be recognised by what he sees as leaders in the sustainable fashion space.
"[CO] are campaigning for using fashion for good, and that's always been our dream and desire ... to help right the wrongs of the past in fashion."
Other brands which received awards included Raeburn, a luxury British brand which uses recycled materials in its designs, sustainable fashion stalwart Stella McCartney, and Indigenous, a US brand which invests in Peruvian artisan workers by providing microfinance.
“The CO platform was created to take sustainability in the fashion industry to scale," said Harold Tillman, chairman of CO.
"We are seeing more and more businesses and business leaders taking sustainability seriously, and this has never been more important. The CO awards are putting the spotlight on the visionaries that will drive change – and inspire a new generation of fashion professionals”
Outland Denim reached new heights when Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, wore a pair of the brand’s jeans four times while on her tour of Australia with husband Prince Harry last year.
"Oh man, it's hard to put into words [the Meghan Markle effect] it caused a lot of growth and growing pains as well and that's the awesome and challenging sign of something as miraculous as that."
As a result of the interest caused by Markle, Bartle was able to create 46 new positions for women in his company. Something which has a flow-on effect into the communities and dependents the women are responsible for.
Bartle told Vanity Fair magazine at the time that online sales increased by 2300 per cent over the two weeks following Meghan’s appearance in the jeans saw, while traffic to their website spiked by 1000 per cent in the 48 hours after the Duchess wore them.
“She didn’t receive the jeans through us. We’re not sure how she heard of us but are thrilled that the brand’s ethos aligns with her own,” Bartle told Vanity Fair.
“On top of that, the denim is very comfortable and she wore them day after day on the tour. As a company it’s been win-win, but it’s benefitted people who really need help and I hope Meghan knows that.”