Thursday, April 7, 2011


New Zealand label Kowtow has just released new winter collection ‘Equilibrium’. Inspired by the grand architect Antoni Gaudi, smooth silhouettes, subtle seam lines and shadowy drapes reflect the relaxed practicality that embodies Kow Tow. Inspiring founder Gosia Piatek talks frankly about her commonsense approach to creating a label with noble values.

How did your label come about?
I was brainstorming ethical business ideas with a friend in a vegetarian restaurant in Wellington, NZ, and she said to me "why don't you start up a fair trade organic clothing label?" I left the restaurant inspired, started researching into this idea and 6 months later Kowtow was born! That was back in 2007.

Where does the name Kowtow originate?
In imperial China, Kowtow is the act of deep respect shown by kneeling and bowing so low as to have one's head touching the ground.

What influenced you to create an ethical label?
There was no other option but to be ethical. I needed to make sure that everyone from the cottonseed farmers to the environment are protected. What other options are there? Turn a blind eye to the obvious 1st worlds exploitation of the 3rd world? The human exploitation and environmental degradation.... ummmm ... no thanks!

You recently traveled to India to see where your clothing is dyed, knitted and made, why was this important to you?
My first and foremost passions are human welfare, the fairtrade system and sustainability. Without all of these aspects I would not want to be involved in any business. So going to India to see our production process from seed to cotton was incredibly important.

What did you see? Did you learn anything?
I needed to prove to myself that the certification systems (FLO and SKAL) that we work with are legitimate. I came back with even more passion and spark. I saw and documented an incredible amount of positivity and hope.

How do you start each collection? What inspires you?
We start with a subject, person or theme. This provides us with boundaries and helps us explore the finer details that are associated with the theme. For Winter 2011 we were inspired by Antoni Gaudi and his architectural works. He worked alongside nature to create his awe-inspiring buildings. We used his quotes, architectural drawings and details to incorporate into our clothing. These were then transcribed into prints and garment names such as the Casa Cape, Sagrada Familia Top and Arches Scarf.

How does your location affect your work?
Wellington is an incredibly creative city, not to mention very individualistic with fashion. So creative inspiration is easy to achieve. Being at the end of the world does mean that business growth is slower but we have, however, the advantage of tapping into huge export markets, as New Zealand seems to be a very trusted country to do business with.

Tell us about your usual day?
In an incredibly short summary it goes something like this.... Yoga, check & reply to emails, sort out orders, deal with production, chase accounts, set work for staff, home, dinner, sleep. Pretty glamorous ay?

What’s next?
A certified Fairtrade Organic merchandise company about to be launched next month!

Check out the amazing photos from Gosias trip on her awesome blog here . The Equilibrium collection is now available at


  1. I wore their sleek black skivvy last winter. Organic fair trade, bring it on.

  2. I love Kowtow. Thanks for a great post. jx