Go Inside Kowtow's Ethical Production Line

See the Indian factories where Kowtow's garments are made in this magnificent photo essay


In January 2015, Kowtow visited their ethical and sustainable production chain from seed to garment. The journey starts at dawn, driving through farmland in Odisha, Eastern India. Pictures / Yoan Jolly

The first stop is a training centre in Odisha, which teaches local farmers about sustainable production of organic cotton and food through companion planting. Farmers make the most of their land so they can feed and provide income for their families in a sustainable way.

Farmers, like this woman, are part of co-operatives that provide support and training to encourage sustainable production of their land.

Organic cotton in bloom, ready for the last handpick of the season in Odisha. The cotton season spans a few months, allowing for several harvests. The fields are rain-fed and no chemical fertilisers and pesticides are used.

Farmers remain attached to their traditions and a strong sense of community. Ram, Kowtow’s guide and head of the organic production training centre, is blessed as the team enters the cotton fields at the edge of the village.

Raw fair trade organic cotton, at the ginning mill. Ginning consists of separating the seeds from the cotton fibres. The mill only processes fair-trade organic cotton to ensure the traceability of Kowtow’s cotton.

Kowtow collaborated with local weavers to produce a limited edition hand-woven scarf for the next summer collection. This organic cotton yarn is dyed using natural pigments, such as myrobalan, and hung on bamboo poles to dry.

Organic cotton dyed with GOTS approved inks goes to the finishing process before being sent to the manufacturer. Hundreds of people are involved in the making of a single garment, from the cotton seed to the finished piece. To ensure traceability, Kowtow works with internationally recognised fair-trade certifying organisations and regularly visits their factories.

Limited edition prints are hand screen-printed in Kolkata with GOTS water based inks.

Kowtow has been working with the same factory for 10 years. The annual audit by Fairtrade International (FLO) ensures fair workplace standards and child-free labour. Here, the sampling room.

Kowtow’s philosophy is to design innovative collections that are entirely sustainable and ethically made, like this jumpsuit ($239). kowtowclothing.com

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