Preserving the planet. Protecting the people.

This week we acknowledge Fashion Revolution, a global movement campaigning for greater transparency and ethics in the fashion supply chain. Fashion Revolution Week came to light after the tragic collapse of the 2013 Rana Plaza Garment Factory in Bangladesh. As we reflect upon the issues that remain entrenched in the fashion industry, we are reminded of the importance of the values we hold at Kowtow; to preserve the planet and protect the people we work and connect with. That is why we have worked with Fairtrade Labelling Organisations (FLO) certified manufacturers in India since our inception in 2006.

With this year’s Fashion Revolution happening in the midst of the current global pandemic, thinking critically about the fashion industry is more pressing than ever. The pandemic has disproportionately threatened vulnerable garment workers who have been left without jobs or adequate health services. For us, this is a time when respecting people and our planet has never been more pertinent. To ensure the safety of workers, our two factories have temporarily closed in India and the owners are committed to maintaining employees during this time. We have ensured communication lines are open, and are in touch with them daily as the situation progresses. Compassion and respect for each person involved in the production process is paramount and we choose for those values to sit at the forefront of our decisions.

Our respect for the people we work with is cemented by the certification of your garments by non-profit internationally recognised organisations who carry out independent audits that align with our values. All of our cotton is certified by Fairtrade Labelling Organisations International (FLO), which ensures that the farmers and growers that we work with have fair working conditions, are supported to establish thriving communities and to have control over their futures, and the environment in which they work. Fair trade empowers farmers to negotiate with buyers to secure better prices for their cotton. Every season, certified farmer groups receive a premium to be spent on community projects such as medical costs, irrigation schemes for conserving rainwater, books and clothes for school children, farmer education, training and upgrades. We pay this premium on every single cotton garment.⁠ And because for us ethics and sustainability go hand in hand, the fairtrade certified cotton we use is also organic, which means it is free from harmful chemicals, is grown alongside food crops to feed farmer communities and promote soil fertility, and uses 91% less water than conventional cotton.

The importance of choosing fairtrade and organic cotton becomes clear when we look at how this choice contributes to the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

1

No Poverty

Organic cotton farming means farmers spend less on inputs, and Fairtrade ensures farmers receive the best price for their cotton.⁠

2

Zero Hunger

Organic cotton is grown alongside food crops to feed farmer communities and promote soil fertility and biodiversity.⁠⁠

3

Good Health & Wellbeing

Organic cotton farmers are not exposed to toxic chemicals, and Fairtrade is committed to the protection of workers' rights.⁠⁠⁠

4

Quality Education

Fairtrade invests in educating on best farming practices and farmers receive a premium each season to be used on programs in their community.⁠

5

Gender Equality

Fairtrade promotes and supports gender equality and women's rights amongst organic cotton farmers and our supply chain.⁠

6

Clean Water & Sanitation

Growing organic cotton uses 91% less water than conventional cotton. We ensure responsible water treatment in yarn processing by working with the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS)⁠.⁠ ⁠⁠⁠

7

Affordable & Clean Energy

Fairtrade has recently pioneered a carbon neutral program.⁠

8

Decent Work & Economic Growth

Fairtrade ensures no exploitative behaviour and supports fair wages, no child labor and gender equality.⁠⁠

9

Industry Innovation & Infrastructure

Organic cotton is the basis of a sustainable textile industry, and when supported with Fairtrade premiums, farmer cooperatives strengthen their infrastructure. ⁠⁠⁠

10

Reduced Inequality

Fairtrade mobilises trade between countries where developing nations are lifted out of poverty. ⁠ ⁠

11

Sustainable Cities & Communities

To obtain Fairtrade certification, cooperatives are inclusive, support equality, and help strengthen opportunities within local communities.⁠

12

Responsible Consumption & Production

Fairtrade works with farmers to improve the quality of crops without negatively impacting the environment. We ensure responsible production throughout our supply chain with GOTS and OEKO-TEX certifications for our organic cotton processing and trims.⁠

13

Climate Action

Fairtrade is training farmers in new techniques in order to maintain organic soils which sequester carbon to build and improve soil fertility. ⁠ ⁠

14

Life Below Water

Organic cotton keeps waterways clean and safe for people and the entire ecosystem by not using harmful chemicals and eliminating toxic run-off.⁠⁠

15

Life On Land

Fairtrade work with farmers to enhance biodiversity of their land by rotating crops, companion planting and on-site green waste composting.⁠

16

Peace, Justice & Strong Institutions

Fairtrade respects democracy. Farmers are free to join unions and vote for their cooperative representatives who have a say in how Fairtrade is run. ⁠ ⁠

17

Partnerships For The Goals

We have worked with Fairtrade for 14 years and join them in their commitment to working at every level: farm, cooperative, national and global to improve the lives of farmers & producers in India.

At Kowtow, our care for the communities that we work with extends beyond just the production process. We also support an orphanage close to one of our manufactures. Currently housing 50 children from newborn to 25 years old, the orphanage tries to ensure that every child has a good education. This is a big challenge and the girls are often the last to receive support. We believe education is so important, and have committed to paying the girls school fees so they can receive a fair start.

Whilst a lot has changed since Kowtow first came about in 2006, our goal has remained the same. To design beautiful and sustainable collections in a process that is underpinned by respect and empowerment of each person that we work and connect with. We want to thank you for joining us along our journey, as your support of Kowtow, being an ethical & sustainable label, is a pivotal part of creating transformative change in the fashion industry.

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