When posed with the question, 'How do you fix the problems of the world?’, the response of 'denim jeans' probably wouldn't be your first answer, or your second. Nevertheless, the fine team from JC Denim Co. are, in fact, using denim jeans to steadily change the lives of rescued victims of Cambodia's notorious sex-trafficking industry.
Former freestyle motocross rider, Jimmy Bartle, founded the JC Denim project after a trip to Thailand and Cambodia with not-for-profit, Destiny Rescue.
“We were passing through a popular sex-tourism spot in Thailand called Walking Street, and we came across a group of girls standing by the side of the road. There was one girl who looked particularly young and she looked really scared”, Jimmy says. “That was when I decided I wanted to do something to really help.”
Partnering with Destiny Rescue, an organisation that works to rescue and support girls formerly caught in the sex-trafficking industry, Jimmy established JC Denim Co. to commission and train former victims to hand-craft quality denim jeans to be sold in Australia.
“I heard some crazy statistic that ninety per cent of girls that go through programs similar to Destiny Rescue end up back in the sex trade due to poverty”, Jimmy says. “Our motivation is to be able to provide an income for these girls so that this is no longer a problem.”
With a commission wage four times the amount of the average factory wage in Cambodia, JC Denim Co. are quietly helping these girls help themselves out of the vulnerable positions which forced them into the sex trade in the first place.
“Stories like this show how the flow on effect from the investment of buying a pair of jeans is far greater than people could ever imagine..."
One particular girl, Srey, had been working with JC Denim Co. just two years; time in which she had been able to build a home for her family, buy rice fields so her family could earn an income and, incredibly, was able to buy her sister back off a man who had bought her!
“Stories like this show how the flow on effect from the investment of buying a pair of jeans is far greater than people could ever imagine”, Jimmy explains.
However, the story behind them is not the only great thing about JC Denim Co. jeans. They’re a good pair of jeans.
“Jeans are actually one of the hardest garments to make,” Jimmy says, “and initially we were working with girls who potentially hadn’t had to sew to a Western standard before”.
Alongside the issue of money, training the girls to sew at such a high standard was one of the most difficult aspects of establishing JC Denim Co. It was also for this reason that, up until now, JC Denim Co. had only produced men’s jeans.
“Men’s jeans are easier to make and ladies jeans require a lot of equipment which we didn’t have initially”, Jimmy says.
The JC Denim team is therefore extremely proud to announce that the girls have developed a line of women’s jeans, set to be released this year.
“There is a far greater market for ladies jeans”, Jimmy says. “The more jeans we sell, the more girls we can train up and employ.”
While their main goal is to support victims of the sex-trafficking industry in Cambodia, the team at JC Denim Co. are also hugely passionate about the quality of the jeans they produce.
“The girls work to a high standard. We don’t let them off easy just because of their story”, Jimmy explains. “These girls have worked for everything that they have achieved and all of us involved in the project back in Australia are so inspired by their dedication.”
The future is looking bright for the project, with some potential wholesaling opportunities to distribute to different, popular stores.
“These exciting opportunities really just represent more opportunities for more girls in Cambodia”, Jimmy says.
Yes, everyone already knew that denim jeans were cool; it just turns out that they are also ninjas at combatting the human-trafficking industry as well.