New Zealand brand Kowtow has scored one of the highest marks for the 2017 Ethical Fashion Report, coming in sixth as the brand strives towards protecting the rights of workers.
The fourth annual Ethical Fashion Report which was released by Baptist World Aid Australia contained only 16 companies globally that scored an A grade or higher, and Kowtow was one of them.
This year was its first time being involved in the survey, and out of the 106 companies reviewed Kowtow came 6th for ethical practice.
The A grade is the highest grade of all the New Zealand brands to be included in the survey. The company urges people to read the report so that they are more aware of working condition practice throughout brands.
Kowtow has placed a large importance on using only fair trade certified organic cotton, mindful manufacturing with fair working conditions, ethically sourced trims and sustainable packaging.
In the four categories on which the grades were based upon, Kowtow scored A+ for policies, and A- for knowing suppliers, auditing supplier relationships also worker empowerment. Scoring well above the average for each category.
Gosia Piatek, Kowtow art director, and founder, says the company is proud to show how a brand can be successful with compromising its ethics.
“We were excited when Baptist World Aid approached us to take part in the survey. The questions are very stringent and a lot of supporting evidence has to be submitted,” says Piatek.
“To be given the highest grade of all New Zealand fashion businesses shows that we really are who we say we are. No green washing.”
Piatek agrees with the report findings that consumers often look over the manufacturing process and that there are real people striving to deliver a good product.
“We forget that it’s all handmade: that there’s a person operating that machine, or tucking that seam under with his or her finger.”
The Ethical Fashion Report is a good benchmark for companies that want to improve, or in Kowtow’s case, keep up the success.
Kowtow has managed to keep up its ethical practices even now that it is sold at over 200 retailers worldwide.
There are a few reasons that contribute to the company's high mark throughout the entire report, which are as follows:
1) They only work with accredited factories which ensure workers receive benefits including social security funds, pensions, paid leave and medical insurance.
2) All their fabrics are dyed using Global Organic Textile Standards approved water based ink which is free of harmful chemicals.
3) They pay a fair-trade premium to cotton farmers.
4) They only use organic cotton that is sustainable.
Kowtow’s environmental and social responsibility is supported with certifications from the Fairtrade Labeling Organisation (FLO), Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS), Global Recycle Standard (GRS) and Social Accountability Accreditation Services (SAAS).
The high grade is a good example of what other companies should strive towards and is a good start to its 10th birthday this year.
“Conscious fashion is not a trend anymore - it’s a fact and the only way forward. We’re happy to be on top,” says Piatek.