Meet the NZ fashion label making sustainable cool
Newsflash, it's 2018 and it's cool to carry reusable bags on your weekly grocery shop; it's cool to say no to straws and sip from a keep cup. Our world and its resources have limits, and it's time we stop pushing them. This ethos is core to the values of New Zealand fashion label Kowtow, which since finding their roots in 2007 has grown to become an internationally recognised label with a minimalist and effortless aesthetic, all made with sustainable and ethically sourced materials with no compromise on style. According to founder, Gosia Piatek producing ethical and sustainable fashion is a "non-negotiable." Here Samantha Ledlin chats to Gosia Piatek on Kowtow's A/W '18 collection and the changing mindset of fashion production.
How important is using sustainable processes and products to you?
It is incredibly important - non-negotiable really. We spend a lot of time researching trims and developing our own fabrics, and this can often dictate our design in that if we can't find a way to produce something ethically & sustainably we simply don't do it.
Do you feel that unsustainable fashion will soon be a thing of the past?
After attending the Copenhagen Fashion Summit and listening to some key players in the fashion industry talk about their shift into sustainable fashion, it is clear that sustainability is becoming a seamless part of fashion. Technological progress is aimed at sustainability: new materials, eco fibres etc. and big players are now shifting their ways (electric cars, renewable energy). The future will only be possible with a sustainable management of resources and hopefully the need to talk about sustainability will become a thing of the past, but the fundamentals of conscious production will become the basis of the future.
Where do you draw inspiration for your designs and the trends that pepper through?
We are very art driven, so each season we gather inspiration from visiting galleries, reading and travel. For this current season we looked at performer & choreographer, Pina Bausch and Japanese boxing artist, Ushio Shinohara for colour and style research.
What sacrifices do you have to make to your designs when using sustainable materials?
Due to the number of collections we have already designed our limitations have no longer become sacrifices and we now embrace them. We work more slowly in adding in new fibres and trims than most fashion houses, however this has made our designs very coherent. We still do not use zippers, but do have recycled hemp buttons made in Italy and nickel free tacks made in Germany. Once we find a supplier that ticks all our ethical and sustainable boxes we tend to work with them for years to come and build on our relationship. This is the nice attribute to working in an ethical manner.
Kowtow is innately wearable; how would you describe the Kowtow girl/woman?
We always advocated for Kowtow to appeal to any woman. There is a feeling of ease in both our designs and fabrics which make our garments universal. Kowtow has a sense of understated elegance that we like to think appeals to many women across all ages.
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