Aussie Denim Brand Loved By Meghan Markle Earns A+ Ethical Rating

Outland Denim, the Aussie brand worn by Meghan Markle on her tour Down Under has received a top rating in a recent ethical fashion report.

"It's really exciting," Outland Denim founder James Bartle told 10 daily about receiving an A+ grade in the annual Ethical Fashion Report by Christian aid and development organisation Baptist World Aid.

"We pride ourselves on working towards being the most ethical brand," he added.

The Ethical Fashion Report takes a microscope to 130 fashion companies, awarding each a grade from A to F according to how ethical they are.

READ MORE: The Aussie Designer Using Denim To Help Rescue Child Sex Slaves

Since it launched in 2013 the report has shed light on what the industry and individual companies are doing to address key issues like forced labour, child labour and exploitation.

Brisbane-based Outland, which launched just three years ago, was just one of seven brands awarded the top grade in the report.

Bartle founded the brand after seeing the devastating results of human sex trafficking in Asia and the powerful effect rescue and rehabilitation can have for the young women and girls involved.

In October 2018, Outland exploded onto the public scene when Meghan Markle, the Duchess of Sussex , stepped out wearing the brand on no less than three occasions during the royal tour Down Under.

FYI Miss Markle wore the high-rise Harriet jean in black and, yes, you can still snap up a pair for $199.

The brand certainly felt the 'Markle sparkle' with Aussie sales skyrocketing by 1,000 percent and a further three times that on a global scale.

Retailers around the world scrambled to stock Outland products but Bartle made sure the success was fed straight back into the most important part of the brand -- the female workers in Cambodia.

The brand was able to employ about 40 more women, many of whom had been sold for labour or sex or had disabilities. They not only receive training and a wage to live on but also education and skills.

"Our job in creating the product is to make them independent," Bartle said.

Outland jeans were a perfect fit for the Duchess in more ways than one. The ex-actor has long been an advocate for women's rights and used her tour to make an emotional call for female empowerment.

"When girls are given the right tools to succeed, they can create incredible futures, not only for themselves but also for those around them," she said during her speech -- her first as a royal -- at Fiji's University of the South Pacific.

As for what's next for Outland, Bartle told 10 daily that he and the team are keen to keep working hard and improving.

"We'll continue to work on our product -- we can always be better," he said.

In addition to the brand's much-loved basics, Bartle said we can expect to see more fashion-forward seasonal collections, too.

Keen to get your paws on a pair of Duchess-approved ethical denim? 'Course you are. Outland is sold at select David Jones and Myer stores and Nikkou store and Driftlab in Byron Bay as well as online.

The best -- and worst -- of the rest

Along with Outland Denim top scorers with an A+ grade includes fellow Aussie brands Etiko -- which has held their rating for fives years running -- and Mighty Good Undies.

The remaining brands to score an A+ all came from New Zealand -- Freeset T-shirts, Icebreaker, Liminal Apparel and Kowtow.

Receiving an A grade were Bonds and other brands under the Hanesbrands umbrella such as Berlei and Sheridan along with Zara and Kathmandu.

An A- was given to the Cotton On Group -- Cotton On, Rubi and Typo -- and the Country Road Group which includes Witchery, MIMCO and Country Road.

Kmart got a B+ while Target got a B and ALDI a B-. UK fast-fashion online retailer Boohoo got a C- along with Quicksilver and Cue.

READ MORE: 11 Chic, Eco-Friendly Shopping Bags To Help Save The Planet

The report noted that while more than three-quarters of brands showed some improvement on their 2018 overall grade there are still plenty of labels failing the test.

Bec and Bridge, Bloch, Camilla and Marc, Hot Springs -- owners of Rebecca Vallance and P.E. Nation -- and Trelise Cooper all received an F for either failing to respond to the survey or provide publicly available information on the reporting criteria.

A spokeswoman for Trelise Cooper told the Sydney Morning Herald that its F grade was "misleading and deceptive".

"It does unnecessary harm to those who have good practices but choose not to participate in the report," she said.

"By participating in this report, we would be endorsing this style of deceptive reporting, which is not based on first-hand evidence gathering."

For the full report head to the Baptist World Aid Australia website and if you're keen to stay ethical while you shop you can download the End Poverty mobile app via The App Store and Google Play.

Feature image: Getty.