Respect for the environment flows throughout Kowtow’s garments and business practices consciously designing for longevity in both product and design.
In an extension of this vision, Kowtow have recently opened an Auckland retail space emphasised on natural, locally sourced and sustainable materials. The result; an atmosphere of simplicity and warmth speaking to the heart of founder Gosia Piatek’s unwavering commitment to sustainability.
We explore the new space and chat with the incredibly inspiring Gosia.
For over 12 years you’ve been at the forefront of the sustainability conversation. Where did the passion for natural fibres and ethical fashion first come from?
I have always felt connected to the natural world. My parents had given me a large view of the world and I thought bigger than my own backyard. I've always been into snowboarding and hiking, and even up on a mountain or deep in the forest, I don't feel isolated. To me, the world is so beautiful and I knew I wanted to protect it, but it was more a matter of how. I had the innate knowledge in my heart knowing it was the only way to progress forward in order to not only survive, but thrive.
Respect for the environment flows throughout your garments and business practices. How does this inform the design and materials of your retail spaces?
Everything we make is designed to last and our retail spaces are an extension of that vision. We put our trust in Rufus Knight and let him guide us and the space aesthetically. The brief we gave him was that everything in the store had to derive from natural, locally sourced and sustainable materials. We worked with local makers who share the same ethics as us, which is why we have incorporated Nodi Rugs into our space.
Braided Jute Natural Rugs insitu, offering simplicity and warmth. Handmade with sustainably grown jute. Photography - Scott McHardy
Interior created by the incredibly talented Rufus Knight and his team at Knight Associates. Point of sale and American oak front door handle designed in collaboration with local sculptor, Gidon Bing, and hand finished. Photography - Simon Wilson
Tell us a little about your design process?
Seeking longevity in product and design, we are about practicality and clothing for everyday. Because we work so far in advance, we don't design for a season, but rather what we love. This allows for ease, volume, playfulness and fun. We also develop our own fabric colours and textures, which makes our fabric exclusive to use. We stay true to our values and thrive on our limitations - for example, after 13 years we still don't offer zips simply because we haven't found a sustainable option we're happy with.
And the natural environment aside, where else does your inspiration come from?
A lot of my inspiration comes from street style and travel. I love to see what’s going on and my inspiration is always a mish mash of so many cities and countries. These days I spent most of my time in London; it's amazing for styles. You can wear anything and no one thinks anything of it or judges you which is so liberating.
Are you working on any other interesting green initiatives at the moment?
We're focused on full circularity. There are many avenues to explore, but like everything we do we want to ensure the things we implement offer a solution that works toward a positive future. We strongly believe we are responsible for what we produce and that it doesn't end at the customer. Part of this journey is education and providing options for our garment throughout their lifecycle. We already offer a take back and free repair program, but it's just the beginning!
Thank you Gosia for welcoming us into the new Kowtow showroom in Auckland, and for sharing your inspiring story with us.
For more on Kowtow see here.