Outland Denim, the world’s most sustainable denim brand, have partnered with Sydney’s Precision Solutions Group (PSG) to drive a new program, Sag Salim (meaning ‘safe and sound’), designed to support some of the most vulnerable members of the garment industry’s supply chain…
Outland Denim, the world’s most sustainable denim brand, have partnered with Sydney’s Precision Solutions Group (PSG) to drive a new program, Sag Salim (meaning ‘safe and sound’), designed to support some of the most vulnerable members of the garment industry’s supply chain.
The program, currently in its pilot stage, actively seeks out instances of deliberate exploitation, slavery, and unsafe working conditions and puts methods in place to resolve them. The areas targeted in the pilot include, but are not limited to, organic cotton farms in Turkey from which Outland Denim’s cotton is sourced.
“We are proud to be working with Precision Solutions Group and Bossa Denim on this project which we think has the power to revolutionise the fashion industry. Sag Salim isn’t just about eliminating exploitation from only Outland Denim’s supply chain, that’s simply not how supply chains work. This project represents a way brands and mills can collaborate for the benefit of the entire industry and the people who work in it.”
- Outland Denim founding CEO James Bartle.
While sustainability is at the forefront of fashion industry conversations, the focus is typically placed on tier 1 suppliers such as garment factories and suppliers who work directly with brands. The size and complexity of fashion supply chains means that the traceability of each tier becomes more and more opaque. With less traceability and visibility, workers at the very beginning of supply chains, such as those working in cotton farms, are at even greater risk of exploitation.
The International Labour Organisation estimates that the cotton farming sector alone employs 350 million people worldwide. According to the Household Labor Force Statistics by TurkStat, more than 70% of local agricultural wage earners report working in seasonal jobs, and a mere 21% of all wage-earners in agriculture are formally employed. In short, workers in agriculture face low wages, work long hours, and commonly work informally, regardless of their migrant status.
Another key partner in the pilot process is Bossa Denim, Outland Denim’s primary supplier. Bossa Denim has been actively involved in environmental and ethical issues since its inception in 1951, implementing a wide range of projects to further cement its place in the sustainable and ethical fashion industry, such as waste recovery systems, utilisation of natural and safe dyes, and carbon dioxide reduction studies.
After extensive initial research, planning and local engagement, Sag Salim was officially launched on 15 May 2020. It commenced with a three week communications campaign which shared information and resources on COVID-19 and worker’s rights, before opening the grievance mechanism on 08 June 2020 to facilitate two way engagement with workers. IN2, a strategic communications provider based in Turkey, has been engaged to support the program and their expertise and local knowledge has been pivotal to rapidly establishing rapport with the workers.
So far the program has reached over 581,000 people, resulting in 24 reports of pay discrimination, 21 reports of lack of safe drinking water, and reports of unsafe working conditions due to a lack of personal protective equipment. The program allows facilitators to act promptly in responding to and investigating such grievances, which are then reported to appropriate government bodies and NGOs for resolution.
“I really don’t know if I have rights or not. We always work for less wages and are treated poorly. All of these issues are not only my individual problems but every worker's problem. Regarding COVID-19, no preventative measures were enacted or enforced at work. Often, we are forced to work during the weekend, with no vacations and during the curfew as well...In the fields, the high temperature causes sunburn.”
- One of the grievances submitted through the Sag Salim program.
With the pilot program complete, Sag Salim is one step closer to welcoming other brands on board who will benefit from the labour monitoring program. With requirements such as the Modern Slavery Act in the United Kingdom and Australia, the Sag Salim Launching as a membership model, the more brands that join the program and therefore contribute to its funding, the more powerful Sag Salim will be.
Find out more on Outland Denim’s projects in this space via their website below. If your business is interested in finding out how you can be part of Sag Salim, contact Leisl Lancaster, Social and Environmental Impact Manager via Leisl@outlanddenim.com.