Empowerment through fashion
Author: Caleb and Katie Bjorem Date Posted: 5 October 2016
It's often said that fashion has the potential to empower the individual, in that, what we wear allows expression, individuality, reinvention, flair, comfort, style or practicality. Whatever aspects of your personality you wish to highlight, fashion has got you covered. From aligning with a brand, to aligning with a band, a simple change in something as minor as a t-shirt has the potential to redefine an individual’s image.
As designers, we love the freedom that comes with the growing catalogue of clothing choices. But as global citizens, we hate that our freedom is trapping foreign workers into a cycle of poverty and exploitation. So while we agree that clothing offers a chance at transformation and reinvention, we don't think this should be limited to your appearance nor at the expense of someone else.
At Outland Denim, we're breaking the cycle of inequality with every pair of our denim jeans made by women escaping exploitation. We make sure that each employee is highly trained throughout the entire process, from the initial cutting to the final stitch; providing them with a transferable skill set for life. Every worker is paid an honest wage, not a minimum wage but a livable wage so that they have the ability to save, invest, seek further education, support their family and live in freedom and comfort. But most importantly, our team members are valued and respected. We've been privileged to watch these women bravely escape sexual exploitation and boldly begin a new life.
Now that's empowerment from fashion.
Caleb and Katie Bjorem are a Brisbane-based couple who are passionate about working with developing communities. Graduating from the University of Queensland, having both studied international politics and development as well as languages, they have recently returned from a year spent living and working with the Karen people of the Thai-Myanmar border region. They've been married for just three and a half years, are adventurous and adaptable, and can rarely be found apart.