Fairtrade organic clothing at Kowtow
Preserving the planet and protecting its people are at the forefront of this Wellington business
Kowtow is a 100% certified Fairtrade organic cotton clothing brand. “Fairtrade, looking after the people, and organic, looking after the planet and environment,” says founder Gosia Piatek. The company offers unique, trans-seasonal clothing – designed to be worn all year round.
Nature was the inspiration behind founder Gosia's decision to open Kowtow. After spending a lot of her early twenties in nature, snowboarding in the mountains, Gosia said she learnt to “be at one with it and realised how beautiful the world was.” She knew that her next adventure had to align with everything she felt when she was in the mountains.
Gosia was interested in the origin story – where things came from, who made them, how they were produced. She was discussing this one day when her friend asked her, “Why don’t you start a Fairtrade organic cotton clothing label?” And the seed was planted.
The limitations of our ethos keeps us innovative. We don’t compromise on design, and embrace restrictions. This gives our garments a strong minimal identity, and we believe the simplicity of our clothing is the first step toward circularity.
Gosia Piatek, Kowtow Founder
Kowtow (pronounced ko-toe) is a Chinese word describing the act of deep respect demonstrated by kneeling and bowing so low that your head is touching the ground. The brand ethos centres around paying this respect to the environment, and leaving the world in a better place than they found it. Committed to creating positive change, Kowtow only uses renewable and sustainable fibres and ethical manufacturing.
Since Kowtow’s conception in 2006, people have increasingly begun to question the origin of their clothes – how they’re made, who makes them, and what materials are used. Kowtow has grown to a team of 44, with stores in Wellington and Auckland, plus a range of local and international stockists.
All clothing is designed in the Wellington workroom using CLO (a digital pattern-making tool, minimising paper waste). The designs are then brought to life by Kowtow’s partner manufacturers in India through their sustainable design chain – from seed to garment. Despite the amazing growth over the past fifteen years, Kowtow has continued to work with the same organic cotton farmers and manufacturers, visiting them twice a year (Covid-allowing) to nurture the relationships and ensure the standard of sustainable and ethical practices is maintained.
Recently recognised as a B Corp, Kowtow’s goal is to become a fully circular, plastic-free company. The team is constantly researching new and innovative ways of doing things. In 2019, they implemented their free-of-charge repair and take-back initiatives.
Gosia wants to see a shift from the fashion industry’s over-production and dependence on synthetic (plastic) materials. Kowtow looks to nature for solutions, ensuring each garment has as light a footprint as possible – for example using shell and nut buttons, and natural rubber to substitute synthetic elastic.
Kowtow’s stores have been designed in line with their ethos, partnering with interior designer and architect Rufus Knight to develop a simple, minimalistic space made using sustainable materials. The atmosphere inspires customers to enjoy a mindful shopping experience.
Kowtow clothes are not only unique and comfortable, but they also provide their customers with the comfort that they are helping the planet and its people.