We are engaged with a slow production chain, where our collections take 18 months from design to delivery. This is the basis for our values, to ensure workers rights and environmental protection. Our garments are certified by non-profit, internationally recognised organisations. We support fair wages, no child labor, workers rights, gender equality & grower community.
All of our cotton is certified by Fairtrade Labelling Organisations International (FLO). 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. Since our inception in 2006, we have only ever worked with two manufacturers in India. Over this time, we have built close relationships with them and visit twice a year.
Our manufacturers are SA8000 certified organisations. The SA8000 Standard encourages clothing manufacturers to develop, maintain, and apply socially acceptable practices in the workplace. SA8000 organisations are audited by certification bodies accredited by Social Accountability Accreditation Services (SAAS). SA8000 helps ensure the workers at our production facilities receive the following benefits: guaranteed minimum wage, social security fund, pension fund, paid holiday leave, sick pay, medical insurance, subsidised lunches, overtime pay and workplace unions.
Ethical Treatment of Animals
We source local New Zealand mohair, alpaca fleece and wool from farmers who commit to the highest grade of animal welfare, environmental care and social responsibility. This includes commitment to no mulesing.
Our collections are made from organic, renewable, and biodegradable fibres. Entirely committed to fair trade production, we design with longevity in mind. All our fabrics are 100% unique to us as we design from the yarn. We determine the weave, weight, stitch, colour and design all our prints in-house for every fabric.
All our cotton is certified organic by the National Programme for Organic Production (NPOP). The versatility of organic cotton is the basis of our collections, including our denim, knitwear and Building Blocks.
Our swimwear is made from ECONYL® regenerated nylon. ECONYL® yarn consists of pre and post-consumer nylon waste material including fishing nets, discarded carpets, plastic components and fabrics scraps to make environmentally friendly swimwear.
We use Lenzing® tencel, a renewable and biodegradable fibre made using wood pulp from sustainably managed forests. Our Lenzing® tencel is sourced from Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) forests. It is a sustainably managed resource and produced within a closed loop.
Mohair, Alpaca & Wool
Made from natural and biodegradable fibres, we source non-mulesed mohair, alpaca fleece and wool from local New Zealand farms. Each piece is individually knitted to eliminate yarn waste.
As designers, we strongly believe we are responsible for what we produce and that it doesn’t end up as waste. We design with the entire lifecycle in mind, and are working on closing the loop to attain full circularity. We consider every detail of a garment and whether it sits within our values, and only use materials and trims that are responsibly sourced and use them mindfully. We believe the simplicity and strong minimal identity of our clothing are the first steps toward circularity.
Organic Cotton Farming
Organic farming is achieved through companion planting, crop rotations and on-site green waste composting, which helps to preserve entire ecosystems. Crops are exclusively rain-fed and hand picked several times during the season. Our cotton is grown from non- genetically modified seeds and organically farmed without harmful chemicals.
Our swimwear is made from ECONYL® regenerated nylon. Since 2013, ECONYL® have worked with Healthy Seas to remove 160 tons of fishing nets from the world’s oceans and turned them into yarn. ECONYL® is produced within a closed loop, which means it can be recycled infinitely without loss of quality.
Entirely Recyclable Packaging
All of our paper from swing tags to boxes is Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) approved. FSC ensures forests are managed in a way that takes care of the animals and plants who inhabit it, and the workers and local communities who rely on forests. All our packaging is printed with soy-based and petroleum-free inks & designed to be entirely recyclable.
Environmentally Friendly Dyes & Washes
Our organic cotton is processed using Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) approved inks and dyes, which are free from chlorine bleach, toxic heavy metals, formaldehyde and aromatic solvents. We use GOTS approved washes for our organic cotton garments from lightweight jersey to denim. Our handknits are dyed with low impact, metal free dyes to ensure environmentally responsible yarns. These processes ensure sustainable use and treatment of water.
Responsibly Sourced Trims
We source natural agoya shell buttons from Japan, and natural corozo nut and recycled hemp buttons from Italy. Our denim tacks and sliders are nickel-free and made in Germany. Trims are tested by OEKO-TEX for harmful substances and come under the Eco-Management and Audit Scheme (EMAS) and ISO 14000 environmental management standard.
Consider repair before replacing your garment. For minor damages, we offer complimentary repairs. This includes repairing seams, broken stitching, small holes or tears, and replacing buttons when available. Knitwear & Building Block repairs are done on assessment.
For larger rips or stains, we offer the Japanese mending technique Sashiko. This hand-sewn repair is about valuing and extending the life of the garment by not only strengthening it, but taking the time to make it beautiful as well. This service is bespoke for a small fee. Bring your beloved Kowtow garment into our Wellington or Newmarket store for an assessment. If you are an online customer, please email us for repair advice at firstname.lastname@example.org including photos of your garment.
Please note that repairs are done by hand and may require up to 14 working days for completion. This service applies to Kowtow garments only and excludes tailoring and alterations. All garments must be clean and are subject to evaluation prior to accepting the repair.
Take Back Program
To reduce garments going to landfill, we offer a take back programme for our clothing and swimwear. We are currently in research and development, exploring options for recycling and repurposing in the most sustainable way.
We need your help. Return your garments to our Wellington or Newmarket stores. For online customers, please organise your return with email@example.com.
This service applies to Kowtow garments only. Garments must be returned clean.