kowtow – the silent space ss2013/14
The recent disaster in the garment district in Bangledesh has been a wake-up call for many. Many of us buy clothes blindly – buying what suits our pockets with no thought of the consequences for the people that make the clothing in horrendous conditions in a far-away place. And also the consequences for those in our own fashion industry. Clothing is only cheap because the fabrics are cheap and the labour that made them is cheap.
This whole catastrophe has had a flow-on effect in our house. We’ve had a conversation about ethical clothing, what it looks like and who it helps. And the fact that we are even able to make this decision. It is a first world problem, but with very real third world consequences. We get to vote with our wallets. We get to change the clothing landscape by buying ethically-made, organic (the processes are less destructive) clothing. One of the few labels in New Zealand that falls into this category is Kowtow clothing. They have done a remarkable thing with their label -it is all those things AND it is beautifully designed. Their cotton is beautifully soft, their designs fluid and drapey and their clothing is ethically produced in India. They travel out there twice a year to work with the locals on their collections (which are released four times a year).
This summer their first drop for spring is called The Silent Space. The collection draws inspiration from the work of Japanese architect Tadao Ando. His architectural style is charactised by large open areas, which emphasise nothingness. This season’s collection has a more ‘refined edge’ but is still in the Kowtow minimalist spirit. This season’s collection has a more ‘refined edge’ but is still in the Kowtow minimalist spirit. The sleek and beautiful campaign images were shot by Mara Sommer – with styling by Dan Ahwa, make-up by M.A.C. and hair by Stephen Marr. We loved the use of the cotton voile and the especially the ‘Angry Cloud’ tee ($99) print which references Japanese Manga. Much as I am a lover of silk, this voile is light and moves well and is a welcome addition to their knitted cotton which wears and washes so well.
At the recent press day we got to dress the models and to have a good look at the clothes in the process. I am still very impressed by the multi-functionality of many of the pieces. Tops become skirts (Function Piece $149), a scarf becomes a vest (Reclaim Piece $139) tops can be worn either way round (Colours of Light Top) and shoulder bags become backpacks (Mount Rokko Bag $159). We particularly loved the Shadow Dress in white voile ($239), Ando Shorts ($149), Kyoto Cardigan ($219), Vacation Parka ($269) and pretty much all this season’s pants. Those of us who continue to wear pants during the summer often find it hard to find things light enough to wear, and particularly to layer up – these pants fit the bill perfectly. Having worn their Lazy Pants most every weekend this winter, I can imagine I will be wearing their Building Block Pant just as much this summer. With a lovely light palette of white, navy, smokey blue and their orange and yellow prints – there is something for everyone. And basically every piece comes in black too. Lucky me.