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Kowtow Founder Gosia Piatek On Building A Global Ethical Fashion Brand

by: Rosie Dalton | 2 weeks ago | Features

Image: Kowtow Founder Gosia Piatek, via Viva. Image source.

When NZ-born Gosia Piatek launched Kowtow in 2006, she wanted to save the world. Ambitious as this goal was, her ability to promote responsible production and sustainable fabrication have been a testament to her immense drive ever since.

Now based in London, Gosia oversees a global team that stretches from Wellington to Melbourne and the brand’s valued manufacturers in Kolkata and Mumbai. Here, Gosia shares her story.


How did Kowtow begin?
I was really passionate and naïve about saving the world [laughs]. My partner at the time was a graphic designer [and we started with] printed T-Shirts, which were really nice quality. He left the business a few years later and [we started doing a] building block range in pared back, monochromatic colours and beautiful [sustainable] cotton. We basically made an eight-piece range and lost half our stockists. But the ones we picked up really kickstarted [Kowtow].

What drew you to fashion?
I started Kowtow because I wanted to do something meaningful. To do something that was sustainable from the moment it was planted. And then I wanted to make sure that the people growing the cotton were being rewarded fairly for what they do and weren’t being exploited. 

Why do you think we’ve reached a turning point with ethical fashion?
I think the negative side of the fashion industry is in the media a lot these days, especially since Rana Plaza – which has made it seem more real for people. [Climate change] conversations have really gained momentum recently [too]. 

When something is well-made, people consider the product’s longevity too, right? 
Yes, and it’s funny, because when you pay more money for something, you actually look after it better. There’s this kind of mentality where you treasure it.

More than 10 years on, what are you most proud of with Kowtow?
Staying true to our original vision and hiring people who also care about sustainability, because they’re the ones who keep you accountable to that vision. I also love that we haven’t tried to do too much. We’ve stayed true to what we feel comfortable with and what we know is transparent.


You can shop our range of Kowtow pieces, which are sustainably-made in a transparent supply chain, over here

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