Founded in 2006, Kowtow is committed to creating positive change. We believe in preserving the planet and protecting people in everything we do. Our decision making is centred around circular design, ethical manufacturing and sustainable fibres. This strategy outlines our roadmap to creating incremental change across each of these founding values. Our strategy is structured across the pillars of ‘People’, ‘Planet’ and ‘Prosperity’.
Nestled in the heart of Tāmaki Makarau, Kelmarna is an urban farm whose purpose is to rebuild connections between people, food production and the land.
The benefits of green spaces and access to nature are long documented. As urban populations grow and the sprawl of concrete continues to encroach on the natural world, community gardens and urban farms take on a new importance. With a shared purpose to do better for the planet and our communities, Kowtow seeks to bring attention to and celebrate the Avant Gardeners - the local changemakers behind these vital green spaces.
At Kowtow, we are inspired by Kaicycle’s small changes that make a big impact. Whether it’s regenerative and organic farming, circularity or composting, we have a shared purpose to do better for the planet. Through our long standing relationship with Kaicycle - and years of using their composting service - we have worked together to divert our waste from landfill to compost.
The Garden Book Tee is a celebration of Avant Gardeners - the local changemakers behind our community gardens and urban farms. Nestled within our cities, these spaces become a source of education and nourishment, green patches for community amongst the urban landscape.
Inspired by nature in full bloom, this collection celebrates the Avant Gardeners. We believe that collectively, small actions have a big impact. Positive change can begin at home, and in our gardens. By nurturing our natural environment we can bring life to the spaces we inhabit, and encourage nature to thrive - this becomes an act of protest in a world that needs protecting.
The colours are the beginning of a collection. Every colour is made from scratch - determined by Kowtow’s design team who blend and alter every colour to create the perfect shade. Kowtow’s Creative Director Marilou draws inspiration from everyday objects. The colours of a tea towel or the cover of a book can catch her eye and make their way into the collection.
This collection’s creative direction takes inspiration from the women of Bauhaus. The German art school that produced some of its generations finest artists and specialised in both fine arts and crafts. Bringing this time-honoured practice into the modern day, our collection - Material Matters - is selected and designed by hand and guided by touch: the weight, weave, and texture of cotton into myriad fabrics.
In The Studio Series, our Creative Director Marilou shares with us her process in creating a collection entirely from cotton, plus the creative direction of every choice: from conception to design. “As designers we are responsible for what we put out into the world” which is why Material Matters leaves as light a footprint as possible.
We are excited to partner with Australian artist Lauren Brincat, for her Vivid LIVE performance at Sydney Opera House. Sharing a love of colour, textile and shape, Kowtow dressed the artist and her collaborators in a Bauhaus inspired uniform. Tutti Presto fff’ responds to the site of the Opera House, translating the visual and historical gestures of the building into cloth.
Our commitment to nature is evergreen. We use only 100% Fairtrade organic cotton, and with each new collection we move closer to our goal of 0% plastic. With a goal to leave the world better than we found it, that we share with our community, we’re looking to inspirational women to see how they are inspired by their natural environment and how they keep close to it, every day.
There is a kōrero that has become synonymous with Māori art, it is a kōrero that reflects both where Māori art originated and where it is going. It is that Māori makers have a tradition of innovation, acknowledging that Māori have always taken up new technologies as they arrived in Aotearoa or have been developed here.
For a number of years, museums and galleries have been grappling with their role and responsibility towards climate change. As institutions traditionally concerned with preserving and celebrating narratives of colonialism, globalisation, capitalism and modernity, they are intimately bound with the root causes of impending ecological collapse. Coupled with high-carbon, high-waste activities such as touring exhibitions and affiliated packaging, trends in international vernissage attendance, collecting, and preservation (often stolen objects at the heart of the ‘decolonising museums’ debate), the sector’s impact is vast.
Thumbs Up New Zealand (Tino Pai Aotearoa) is an exciting movement working to progress the creation of a unified nationwide waste and recycling strategy so that Aotearoa can be empowered to transition out of our waste crisis. We believe that together, we can make for positive change to this smelly situation.
As we enter this critical new decade, and remain immersed in coping with this unprecedented global pandemic, the urgency of the climate crisis, and therefore the importance of nature-based solutions in repairing the damage that we have done to the planet has become clearer.
Founder and director of Kowtow, Gosia Piatek, in conversation with Allbirds Head of Design Jamie McLellan, and product designer Simon James of Simon James Design and Resident.
When we think of solar technology, we think of the reflective panels on roofs. We know they turn sunlight into electricity, and we merely expect them to simply function. But, when you think about it, sunlight is free and available to everyone. We get it in abundance. In fact, WE RECEIVE ENOUGH SUNLIGHT EVERY HOUR TO PROVIDE THE WORLD’S ELECTRICITY FOR AN ENTIRE YEAR.
As we celebrate World Fair Trade Day, we think of our friends and manufacturers in India who are in the midst of disruption caused by COVID-19. The pandemic has threatened vulnerable garment workers around the world, and for us, this is a time when respecting people and our planet has never been more pertinent.
Stacey Cotter Manière is a Poet and Creative Director based in Sydney. She has worked in the fashion industry across Europe, Asia and Australia for the past 14 years. She enjoys storytelling through various mediums and the cross-pollination that happens as a result.
During these unprecedented times, a certain mind-set has surfaced stating that COVID-19 is some form of gift to nature due to the reduction in pollution levels caused by quarantine measures.
The difference between performative and genuine sustainability in fashion, and why your individual choices matter
Performative sustainability, also known as ‘greenwashing’ occurs when instead of making a tangible change via addressing the factors related to sustainability (e.g. making supply chains and products sustainable, ethical, recyclable and beneficial to underprivileged communities), businesses instead engage in performative actions that appear to engage and action sustainable practice.
What happens when we think beyond the current understandings of sustainability in the fashion industry
Life is the cost that is sacrificed to sustain economic growth, and sustainability has now, in many ways, become a slave put to work to serve the system. I believe that any truly ‘sustainable future’ requires an entire paradigm shift, and in order to think beyond our current paradigm we must first expand our visions for the future of fashion.
Six years ago, I hadn’t planted a single seed. Now I spend almost every waking moment tending to thousands of them. My journey is fuelled by my wonder at the generosity of the natural world. I started with a small 10sqm patch in my first flat, which produced for me an abundance of corn, pumpkins and tomatoes.
To say the last year or so has been weird is perhaps putting things lightly. Weird it has been though, for me, and for many around the world. Talking to musician Stella Rose Bennett — or Benee as we know her — there are levels to this weirdness, and it comes with a kind of conflict.
The word ‘unprecedented’ has been thrown around a lot lately. You can find it everywhere, from social media to corporate marketing efforts and commercials on television. But there is nothing unprecedented — some- thing never done or known before — about these times.
Kowtow is more than a fashion brand, and through Common Interest, we continue our commitment to leaving the world better through a collaboration with like minded visionaries. Built on the ethos that great minds think differently, but often find common ground - Common Interest is available exclusively in Kowtow stores and online from 14 March 2021.