New Zealand brand Kowtow believes that there is an imbalance in standards of living throughout the world which is fuelled by the Wests continuing short changing and exploitation of labour markets in developing countries.
As fashion followers, Kowtow's founders decided to do something about it by creating certified fair trade organic clothing that is ethically and sustainably made from seed to garment.
Kowtow only uses 100% fair trade certified cotton, as certified by the Fairtrade labelling Organisation. The benefits of fair trade are:
- The Fairtrade guaranteed minimum price covers the costs of production and provides a sustainable livelihood for Kowtow cotton producers
- The Fairtrade premium enables co-operatives to fund projects that benefit the organisation and wider community: business and agricultural training; drilling bore holes for clean water; building schools and clinics
- Kowtow fair trade producers benefit from advance payment and long-term relationships with buyers
- Kowtow fair trade producer groups are democratically run and respect the rights of farmers and farm workers
- Fair trade production standards encourage sustainable agriculture and protection of the environment.
Kowtow only uses 100% organic certified cotton, as certified by SKAL International and the benefit are:
- Never uses genetically modified (GM) seeds
- Conserves soil though crop rotation
- Retains water more efficiently thanks to increased organic matter in the soil
- Controls weeds through physical removal rather than chemical destruction
- Controls insects by maintaining a balance between “pests” and their natural predators through healthy soils.
The factory in Kolkata, India where Kowtow garments are made has the following benefits:
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- Factory sponsors projects such as Girls Education, Cow Shed and Cow Donation programs in the farmers villages
- All fabric is dyed using Global Organic Textiles Standard (GOTS) approved dyes which are free of hazardous elements such as nickel, lead, formaldehyde, amines, pesticides and heavy metals
- Employees receive a living wage and factory pays for their social security and pension funds
- Employees receive House Rent, which is 5% of their basic wages
- Employees receive free transport services to the factory
- Employees receive paid holiday leave, sick pay, medical insurance, subsidies lunches and overtime pay
- Employees children all receive free schooling
- Employees work in a well lit, well ventilated and spacious working environment
- Benefit from work place unions.