Is Kotn Ethical? Brand Analysis + Alternatives

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Kotn is a Canadian-based brand creating sustainable clothing for men and women. The brand has a minimalist aesthetic, focusing on clean cuts, timeless fits, and elevated basics like classic tees, sweatpants, and sweaters.

The brand has grown in popularity since its founding in 2015 as an alternative to fast fashion brands like Zara and H&M. Still, while it receives support for its use of sustainable materials, we’re asking, “Is Kotn ethical?”.

Let’s jump in.

Is Kotn Fast Fashion?

No, Kotn is not a fast fashion brand. Kotn doesn’t produce thousands of styles to sell for discounted prices. Instead, the brand focuses on a core collection with limited seasonal styles. Unlike a fast fashion brand, the brand also uses high-quality, sustainably sourced materials that are made to last.

Is Kotn ethical?

What Materials Does Kotn Use?

Kotn predominantly uses – you guessed it – cotton in its clothing, but it also uses other sustainable materials like linen, lyocell, merino wool, and OEKO-TEX-certified dyes.

We’ve spoken about cotton on Ecothes before. Unfortunately, although it’s one of the most popular materials in the fashion industry, it is highly damaging to the environment. In addition, cotton production is notoriously exploitive for workers in cotton supply chains.

Therefore, instead of sourcing conventional cotton, Kotn uses Long Staple Egyptian cotton grown from its own cotton farms in Egypt and BCI cotton. By sourcing its Egyptian cotton, Kotn can ensure a transparent supply chain and ensure safe working conditions for workers in its supply chain.

BCI (Better Cotton Initiative) cotton isn’t organic (as it’s still grown with pesticides). Still, it is grown with more care and attention to the environment, and farmers must also meet high social standards.

Kotn is transitioning to using organic cotton, introducing styles in 2022.

Is Kotn Carbon Neutral?

No, Kotn is not a carbon-neutral brand. We couldn’t find evidence of Kotn publishing its carbon emissions or whether it plans to reduce them.

The brand is taking steps to reduce its environmental footprint, like manufacturing locally, using sustainable materials, using recyclable packaging, and using sustainable production practices that save energy and water.

Is Kotn Ethical?

Yes, we would consider Kotn to be an ethical brand, and here’s why.

The brand is a certified B Corp and has the fourth-highest score out of all North American clothing brands.

Kotn has a fully transparent supply chain, which it controls from raw material to finished product. The brand discloses where its clothing is made, and its factories have a range of certifications like ISO 9001, SA 8000, and OEKO-TEX® certified. The certifications tell us that the factories are externally audited and must meet strict social and environmental standards.

Kotn also has a code of conduct that its factories must adhere to, specifying no child labor or forced labor is used and ensuring a living wage is paid by its suppliers. The brand states that the lowest wage paid by its suppliers is approximately 14% above the local minimum wage, and the average wage is approximately 26% above the minimum wage.

The brand uses only OEKO-TEX® nontoxic dyes to ensure they’re safe for workers, customers, and the earth.

Along with ensuring the ethical production of its clothing, the brand contributes to supporting school children in Egypt. Working with the NGO Misr El Kheir Foundation, Kotn donates a percentage of each purchase to fund and build primary schools in Egypt. So far, Kotn has helped to fund 15 schools, and it’s hoping to help build 50 by 2025.

Where are Kotn’s Clothes Made?

Kotn produces its clothing in Egypt, with some production in Portugal.

The brand has a fully transparent supply chain and discloses the factories which produce its clothing; you can read the list here.

Kotn works with factories that carry certifications like ISO 9001, SA 8000, and OEKO-TEX®.

Is Kotn Vegan and Cruelty-Free?

Kotn is not a completely vegan brand because it uses merino wool in some of its products. The brand doesn’t specify whether it has an animal welfare policy, and it doesn’t specify whether it sources non-museld wool.

Does Kotn Have A Clothing Recycling Program?

No, Kotn currently doesn’t have a recycling program where you can recycle your old clothing.

Ecothes Opinion: Kotn Sustainability Rating

Overall we rate Kotn a great score of 4/5 and consider Kotn a brand we would support.

What we liked:

✔ Fully transparent supply chain

✔ Workers are paid a living wage

✔ The brand uses sustainable materials

What we didn’t like:

❌ Although the brand uses fully transparent cotton and BCI cotton, we would like to see the brand introduce more organic cotton.

❌ We couldn’t find any evidence of an animal welfare policy

❌ We want to see the brand publish its carbon emissions and whether it plans to reduce scope 1, 2, and 3 emissions.

Sustainable Brands like Kotn

We believe that Kotn sets a great standard that we hope many brands can follow in terms of the transparency of its supply chain.

We’ve chosen our favorites below if you love Kotn and want to discover similar ethical and sustainable brands.

1. Colorful Standard

Colorful standard sustainable fashion

Sustainability: GOTS-certified organic cotton essentials and recycled merino wool sweaters

Best for: Colorful basics

Ships to: Worldwide

colorful Standard ethical brands like Kotn

2. Pact

Pact ethical clothing

Sustainability: Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) clothing made in Fair Trade-certified factories

Ecothes rating: 4.2/5

Best for: Casualwear

Ships to: Worldwide

Pact clothing brands like Kotn

3. Mate the Label

Mate the label ethical fashion

Sustainability: Sustainable fashion brand creating nontoxic clothing from recycled cotton, organic cotton, and Tencel

Ecothes rating: 4/5

Best for: Essentials

Ships to: the US & International

Mate the Label ethical clothing

4. Reformation

Reformation

Sustainability: Ethical clothing brand creating sustainable fashion from recycled and natural materials—transparent supply chain.

Ecothes rating: 4.5/5

Best for: Dresses, occasion wear, denim

Ships to: Worldwide

Reformation polka dot blouse eco friendly

Wrapping Up: Is Kotn Ethical?

If you enjoyed our brand analysis of Kotn, make sure you check out our ratings of other brands like Frank and Oak, J. Crew, Urban Outfitters, and more.

Bethany
Bethany

Bethany Worthington BSc (Hons) (she/her) is the Sustainable Fashion Editor and Co-founder of Ecothes. She has a passion for the environment, and a long love of all things clothing, and combines those two interests with Ecothes. In her free time she loves dancing, hiking in the countryside, and laughing with friends.

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