Kowtow Clothing: sustainable + modern

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By Meg | Women
Posted Mar 12, 2013

Kowtow means to “To kneel and touch the forehead to the ground in expression of deep respect, worship, or submission”. The striking, minimalist fair-trade brand Kowtow seems to embody that practice in their production, while their unisex esthetic and multipurpose garments completely turn away and are defiant to modern fashion consumption.

Hailing from Wellington, the capital city of New Zealand, the brand’s Director/Designer Gosia Piatek manages a team of three who operate the brand and online store. Kowtow is shipped all over the world, with a strong stocklist based in New Zealand and Australia. Although only coming into their sixth year, they have already appeared in publications like Frankie, Good, Surface, Black, Mens’ Style, and Catalogue.

Bold prints, striking graphic silk-screened images, asexual silhouettes, and post-modern esthetic pieces are produced in block shades of black to white, with a few bold seasonal colours each collection. The striking artistic visions and moods Piatek creates in her collection, and communicates through promotional images and lookbooks are captivating. Along with seasonal creations, Kowtow offers a solid line of Building Blocks- garments that are every day luxury wardrobe basics and can be worn as separates or layered to create a complex look.

Kowtow’s eleventh collection Anywhere but Here is inspired by themes of revolution and lost youth.

‘The feeling we wanted to portray is one that is discussed daily at Kowtow which is about “growing-up”, what that means in this age, and the restrictions that are imposed on us daily as an adult. This collection has a sense of rebellion – nostalgia for a time when we had nothing better to do than to wander aimlessly, it’s a theme that resonates strongly within me.” – Gosia Piatek

The Kowtow collection is based on it’s premium certified fairtrade organic cotton and dyed using GOTS dyes that are free from formaldehyde, nickel, lead and other heavy metals. The factory is located in Kolkata, India where workers have the benefit of working only with certified organic cotton, in a well lit, well ventilated and spacious working environment. They also receive a living wage and the factory pays for their social security and pension funds, free transport services to the factory, paid holiday leave, sick pay, medical insurance, subsidizes lunches and overtime pay, and employees’ children all receive free schooling. Not only that, the factory sponsors projects such as Girls Education, Cow Shed and Cow Donation programs in the farmer’s villages. They have even documented the entire cotton chain from seed to garment on their Vimeo channel.

This type of commitment to quality, aesthetic and ethics are why Kowtow were finalists in the 2012 DHL Express Fashion Export Scholarship and were the winners in the Fashion Category at the Green Lifestyle Awards 2012 in Australia.

Kowtow to Kowtow.

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