Global award for Meghan’s favourite jeans made with Christian love

Outland Denim, an Australian premium jeans brand made famous by Meghan Markle, the Duchess of Sussex, has won an international award honouring the world’s most innovative sustainable fashion businesses.

The Australian brand was one of ten businesses honoured in the 2019CO Leadership Awards, awarded by fashion technology and business platform Common Objective (CO) to celebrate “disruptors” in sustainable fashion.

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.

Outland Denim was started by Christians James and Erica Bartle eight years ago 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.

Outland Denim’s business exploded after the Duchess of Sussex wore a pair of the brand’s jeans four times while on her tour of Australia and the South Pacific with husband Prince Harry last year.

Bartle said he was 100 per cent confident that starting Outland Denim was a call from God.

As a result of the interest caused by Markle, Bartle was able to create 46 new positions for women in his company, with flow-on effects to their families and communities.

Bartle told the Sydney Morning Herald it was hard to put the “Meghan Markle effect” into words.

“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,” he said.

Bartle told Vanity Fair magazine at the time that online sales increased by 2300 per cent over the two weeks after Meghan’s appearance in the jeans, while traffic to its website shot up by 1000 per cent in the 48 hours after the Duchess wore them.

Bartle said he was honoured to be recognised by “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,” he said.

Bartle told Eternity that he started Outland Denim in 2011 after becoming angry to discover that people were being trafficked and sold for sex or labour in our world today.

The former motocross driver said he got a vision of young Asian girls while praying for protection at Easterfest in Toowoomba, which “broke me and I started crying.” Later that day he met people from Destiny Rescue, which rescues girls and women from sex slavery in Asia, after which he went on a journey to Thailand, Cambodia and Burma to see the problem first hand.

Bartle said he was 100 per cent confident that starting Outland Denim was a call from God.

His partner Erica added that Outland was a premium brand that made a beautiful quality product, but their motivation was to help people build sustainable career paths after being rescued from difficult pasts.

“They’re made in an entirely ethical way by a community of young women who have wonderful working conditions. Why shouldn’t they go to work in a beautiful space where they feel sense of family and community, which reflects our Christian values?”