Business is Boring is a weekly podcast series presented by The Spinoff in association with Callaghan Innovation. Host Simon Pound speaks with innovators and commentators focused on the future of New Zealand. This week he talks to James Bartle, founder of ethical clothing brand Outland Denim.
Right now, you’re probably wearing something you’re not super proud of. All of us know that if a piece of clothing was a bargain at a fast-fashion store or from a mass-market brand, then chances are the labour, fabric or environmental footprint is probably not up to scratch. Clothing production is one of the biggest industries in the world and it largely has a harmful social and economic impact. Most people know more about the living standards of the chickens that lay their eggs than the workers that make their clothes.
But what happens when one person starts trying to do something about it?
James Bartle was inspired to take on trafficking after watching the Liam Neeson film Taken. His journey led him to Cambodia where he set up a factory for Australian company Outland Denim, one of the world’s fastest-growing premium sustainable fashion brands. It had a huge wave of publicity last year after the Duchess of Sussex wore a pair of the brand’s jeans, leading to more than 46 new workers being added to the company.
This week, Bartle was in Auckland launching a new line with Karen Walker – a collaboration including t-shirts, jackets, jeans and skirts made with signature Karen Walker elements and made by Outland’s own team in Cambodia using organic cotton and dyes.
Bartle joined Business is Boring to chat about the journey, Outland’s B Corp status, and expectations around how denim can be produced.
The Spinoff Weekly compiles the best stories of the week – an essential guide to modern life in New Zealand, emailed out on Monday evenings.