Kotn: Sustainable Clothing & Homeware

Kotn is a Canadian sustainable clothing and homeware brand using ethically crafted and sustainably sourced Egyptian cotton.

Kotn Sustainably Sourced Clothing

About Kotn:

The sustainable clothing and home wear brand originated from the goal of wanting to creat the perfect t-shirt. The company sought to design a shirt that prioritized quality, price, and the integrity of the people who made it. Since designing that t-shirt, Kotn has expanded into womenswear, menswear, and homeware. Their collections prioritize “principles of considered design, relentless quality, honest value, and positive impact.”

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Kotn is an advocate for traceability. The brand defines traceability as “the knowledge of where a product came from, who made it, how, and when – shouldn’t be a luxury, but a standard.” Kotn’s production is primarily based in Egypt, where half of their team is located.

Creating A Direct Working Method

Kotn works directly with certified facilities as a way to maintain the best business practices for the facilities’ community. By cutting out the middlemen, Kotn can provide its manufacturing partners guaranteed living wages and equal opportunity, while ensuring environmental transparency throughout each step of production.

Kotn began their brand by working directly with smallholder cotton farmers in the Nile Delta, Egypt, and they still do today. They’ve since expanded their on-the-ground personal relationships to 2,390 farmers throughout the Nile Delta and Faiyum regions, working with them to best serve their business and community needs, helping everyone grow sustainably. Their cotton farms, yarn mills, fabric mills, and cut-and-sew facilities are all within 100 kilometers/62 miles of each other. Once the cotton is spun, woven, and dyed in Egypt, their garments are constructed in both Egypt and Portugal.

Utilizing direct trade practices, Kotn sources its raw cotton from smallholder farmers in Egypt. They also work with responsible manufacturing facilities in Egypt and Portugal to ensure fair wages and treatment throughout their supply chain.

Living Wages

Living wages are calculated based on the local cost of living and well-being. Kotn’s suppliers pay a higher living wage. The lowest paid living wage Kotn’s supplier pay is still 14% higher than the local minimum wage and the average minimum wage is 26% higher. In alignment with Kotn’s Code of Conduct, the company also guarantees no child or forced labor. Kotn ensures safe and healthy working conditions, legal labor contracts, freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining, and no discrimination against employees or excessive hours of work. Read more about Kotn’s supply chain and manufacturing partners here.

Materials Used

To reduce micro-plastics leached from synthetic materials, the brand focuses on using natural fibers, which can biodegrade at the end of their life cycle. The material portfolio includes Egyptian cotton sourced from smallholder cotton farmers in the Nile Delta, Egypt. Kotn includes low-waste cutting methods and upcycled its leftover materials. The dyes used are the OEKO-TEX® certified non-toxic.

As the brand has grown, Kotn has expanded its assortment to offer additional and equally remarkable natural fibers beyond its namesake Egyptian cotton, including linen, ECOTEC cotton, BCI cotton, TENCEL™ lyocell, organic cotton, and merino wool. These fibers are sourced through certified organizations, like the Better Cotton Initiative (BCI), The Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS), the Responsible Wool Standard (RWS), and the Global Recycle Standard (GRS), which maintain the same direct-to-origin relationships as Kotn does in Egypt, ensuring the best treatment for the farmers and the land around them.

Kotn Egyptian Cotton Farm
Kotn Egyptian Cotton
Kotn Cotton Looms

Sustainability Efforts:

Sustainability is considered throughout Kotn’s entire business model, from seed to sale. Rooted in the belief of buying less and enjoying longer, Kotn’s process of sustainability starts with creating considered, timeless pieces that are built to last and ends with customers caring for the pieces for years to come.

Kotn also produces most of its pieces locally where its cotton is grown and sourced, which helps to minimize carbon emissions associated with transportation and contributes to a more sustainable supply chain.

For both in-store and online, Kotn ensures their packaging is minimal and eco-friendly. They package all online orders in recycled mailers with recyclable tissue and no plastics. In-store, purchases are wrapped in recyclable tissue and placed in a recyclable paper bag.

Sustainable Credentials

Kotn is a certified B Corporation. They’ve been certified since September 2017 and were voted Best for the World™ for their Community category (an honor given to the top 5% of B Corp-certified businesses worldwide). Kotn has the fourth-highest B Impact Score of apparel brands in North America. 

Kotn Clothing

Sustainable Milestones

Kotn has introduced an assortment of eco-friendly and certified fabrics to their range including BCI-certified cotton, GOTS-certified organic cotton, and ECOTEC Cotton. Their Fine Knit pieces use ECOTEC yarn, which is created from a mix of certified cotton fibers (BCI or GOTS) and pre-consumer clippings (i.e. production waste from weaving and knitting companies). The production process to create an ECOTEC yarn emits 46.6% fewer greenhouse gasses, expels 46.9% less energy, and uses 61.6% less water.

Their care labels are made from recycled polyester and in their existing and new store spaces, materials are also top of mind. Kotn is dedicated to using 80% vintage or second-hand furniture in all of its stores. When renovating, they aim to recycle, gift, or resell all existing building interiors to reduce demolition waste and extend the life of every piece.

Currently Working Toward

While Kotn has met rigorous B Corp standards, has a 100% traceable supply chain, and focuses on timeless design and sustaining their communities, they don’t have any publicly available information on whether they are measuring their greenhouse gas emissions, waste, pollution, or water, land, and energy use. They also don’t have any publicly available information on their sustainability goals, targets, or timelines for improving their environmental impact in the future.

Kotn has stated that from their farms to factories, to their stores, and finally their customers’ closets, Kotn’s materials and products move through 15 packaging components. As of 2022, Kotn shared that 14 of these 15 packaging components were plastic-free and they were working to make this process 100% plastic-free.

Kotn Store

Social Justice & Advocacy

With each order, Kotn invests in the creation of jobs, infrastructure, systems, and education to alleviate poverty and create shared, sustainable growth for the communities they are part of. In developing relationships with their farming communities, they learned that access to education for their children was their main need. So, Kotn started The ABCs Project in partnership with a local NGO Misr El Kheir Foundation. With each order, Kotn donates a portion of the proceeds to fund and build primary schools in the Nile Delta and Faiyum, Egypt. To date, they’ve funded 18 schools and built 15. Learn more about The ABCs Project here.

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