James Bartle is the founding CEO of Outland Denim, the denim brand making jeans differently and setting a new standard in fashion manufacturing. Driven by the desire to curb the trafficking of young girls into the $99 billion illicit commercial sex industry, Bartle created Outland to generate training and employment opportunities for women vulnerable to exploitation and abuse. Over six years Bartle developed a unique business model that would enable each of his seamstresses to gain a covetable skill set in tailoring while earning a living wage, receiving ongoing support and life-enhancing education, and crafting artisan quality jeans to compete in the global premium marketplace. In 2016, he took Outland to scale, securing international investment and distribution to further the company’s mission to employ more young women while concurrently investing heavily in supply chain and environmental stewardship. With a background in manufacturing and start-up ventures, Bartle has taken a hands-on approach to developing Outland’s signature jean styles, eschewing automation in favour of craftsmanship. He lives with his wife and two young daughters in the hills of the Gold Coast hinterland, Australia.


Show Notes

How James arrived at his life work of ending slavery

Liam Neeson film, Taken and how this affected him

Free style Motor-cross

Outland Denim is something he cannot escape, it is way more than what it looks

Started a metal fabrication business to fund Outland Denim

Plus flipping burgers, working late into the night, counting gold coins out of a milk bottle

The concept took 5, nearly 6 years to prove.

Wanted to be sure the people (women in Cambodia employed by Outland Denim) were able to be responsible for rebuilding their lives

Creating a generational and community impact beyond what charity and aid currently can give

Connecting with the Source Idea

Overwhelming experience of not knowing how to pay for wages, but we have always found a way

What brought a 12 year old girl to the place of being up for sale as a sex slave?

Holding the picture of this 12 year old girl enables James to do what he needs to do

“Can we bring back the values of where business is about benefiting everyone in the process?”

“It is not possible to claim that we are a moral society when we blatantly exploit those who are producing the things we like/buy”

“It is the job of brands like ours to make it accessible, to make it easy for you to be part of the solution”

“I can’t manage the hard times myself”

“The many time that “it is over” and the feeling of dread and anxiety overtakes you”

When the only thing left is to pray

James believes God put humans beings here to look after each other

“Sometimes it has been really humiliating – who do I know that has any money?”

We are going to pay people to learn and we are going to test this business model

They (the women employed in Cambodia) can’t believe management would ever come and visit us

“The women are the change makers”

The business model is not a give back and is not a charity

We tested the business model for 5 years.

The dream is that we can prove that this is a financially viable model and the only type of model that should exist in the developing world, that we should not be able to go into a country and take its resources

Modern slavery is a bigger problem today than it has ever been in history

James wants those who are well off to fight for those who are not

Pay It Forward – the movie

“We just need to steward it right”

“I am looking for the solution, and to partner with people committed to the solution”

“You cannot separate people and planet”

Kevin Bales and modern day slavery

How deforestation is so closely connected to slavery

Andrew Forest

Anand Giridharadas Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World

Resource extraction

Alaska Fund

Working in Cambodia and the challenges of doing this

The Meghan Markle effect

“I am an artisanal jean maker who makes jeans for a princess”

“If you want to talk about making real change, restore people’s dignity”

Let My People Go Surfing – Yvon Chouinard

Patagonia’s Purpose, 2018, To Take Care of Our Home Planet


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