4 years ago, the downtown street of Toronto, Queen West, saw the opening of one of the most ethical and unique clothing stores ever. KOTN has since been redefining fashion, one sustainably made t-shirt at a time.
Since its Canadian debut in Toronto, KOTN has been constantly growing. A few of months ago, the Canadian company opened their second shop in New York. While still in the honeymoon phase of their new Manhattan opening, on November 22nd, KOTN opened another location in Gastown, Vancouver BC.
KOTN is one of the few fashion brands that has been recognized by credible sources for reasons beyond their products. Their sustainable and environmental efforts have been noted by Forbes, GQ, Refinery29, Inc.,Wallpaper*, Vogue, and The NY Times.
“KOTN works with Egyptian cotton farmers to keep costs low while helping to revive a struggling agriculture business. The results are supersoft styles in just the right cuts.” – NY Times
We were lucky enough to talk to a member of the company’s management team, Heather Peat. Peat filled us in on where they are now, what they have been up to and where they are going.
On the Inside
Being a clothing brand that sells basics, how do you set yourselves apart from other established lines that sell basic clothing?
Our mission sets us apart, definitely. We work with everyone directly – all the way from farm to hanger. This means that we work with each and every partner throughout the manufacturing process directly (farm, yarn-mill, dye-house, cut and sew facility). It’s quite rare for companies to know exactly which farms their material is grown, but we know each of the farms where our cotton is grown…even the farmers who tend to it!
In terms of collaborations on a national level, what are some of the projects that you have worked on to help in Egypt?
We are currently working with a NGO in Egypt to help kids in the Nile Delta get an education. The farms that we work with are all located in the Nile Delta, and many of these communities are impoverished and children do not have access to schools, or if they do, they’re too far away. Many of these children end up working on the farm and never learn to read or write. We’re working to change this and built our first school last September, and have a second one under construction as we speak.
What is the difference between the environmental impact of your manufacturing/production process in comparison to that of other clothing brands?
What KOTN offers is transparency every step of the process; we’re honest about where we stand and are constantly setting goals to improve our processes. Many farms lack the knowledge, resources, or motivation to become 100% certified organic, and we’ve embarked on a project to ensure 100% of our cotton is certified organic within the next five years.
KOTN is redefining cotton in ways that go beyond the spelling of the word. They have gone directly to the source in order to make sure that each part of the process is ethical, humane and sustainable. All are adjectives that are seldom used in the fashion world. The creators of KOTN, Mackenzie Yeates, Ben Sehl, and Rami Helali have gone above and beyond to find a solution that benefits consumers and creators equally. As a result, they have created this partnership, one in which their customers can be included. Buying KOTN’s clothing gives customers the sensation of being a contributor rather than a consumer.
“To stop the cycle of child labour, we’ve also partnered with pro-literacy organizations on the ground in the Nile Delta. In 2017 we completed the funding and construction of our first school, and over Black Friday we raised enough money to fund a second one. Improving the literacy rate for boys and girls in Egypt will help to improve quality of life for the next generation.” – Kotn
At the end of all the selfless, impactful work that KOTN performs, is the product. KOTN sells a variety of basics from t-shirts to sweater-dresses to baby clothing. They are constantly releasing new seasonal colours and styles. KOTN has collaborated with a number of local artists to create new designs and decals to feature on their clothing. Not only is the artist’s work supported, but KOTN personally recognizes each artist through articles written and dedicated to sharing their stories.
“More importantly, the product stands the test of time from washer to dryer. In fact, the hand (feel) seemingly gets better post-wash while retaining its definitive attributes.” – Joseph DeAcetis, Forbes