Kotn is the Toronto-Based Clothing Brand, Ethically Made from Egyptian Cotton
Ben, Rami, Mackenzie, Co-Founders of Kotn
Kotn was founded by three friends, Ben, Rami and Mackenzie—two of whom knowing each other since high school, and two of whom are now married! Hatching the idea while all living in New York, the trio moved back to Toronto in 2015 and launched the brand later that year—as well as a new website just a day before Ben and Mackenzie's wedding.
Kotn is a Toronto-based essential clothing brand—think elevated t-shirts and the items you go for every day—ethically made in Egypt from authentic Egyptian cotton. Grown in only one place—the Nile Delta—Egypt’s “white gold” is finer, softer, and more breathable than any other cotton in the world.
Best known in the coffee and tea industries, Kotn uses direct-trade practices, a process of sourcing raw ingredients straight from the farmers, without the use of traditional middlemen. Buying the raw material themselves allows them to do three things: provide farmers with better prices and business practices than traditional retailers, provide customers with fair prices that reflect the quality instead of the label, and provide transparency into every step of the process, from farm to hanger.
Ben, Mackenzie and Rami were living in New York, and during one hot summer, found themselves wearing white t-shirts every day. They had their regular, cheap t-shirts that they wore a handful of times before having to move on, and "special occasion" t-shirts, that cost them upwards of $80, that they wore for nicer occasions. But they couldn't find anything in between, so they decided to make one. Starting with three men's t-shirts, Kotn has grown from there, all the while with a goal to create good quality, everyday essentials that didn't cost a fortune.
Kotn was founded with the idea that how things are made are just as important as what they become. So while we first and foremost focus on creating a great product, we make sure to focus on every detail along the way, from community well-being to environmental care. Built from the ground up, Kotn works directly with family-owned farms in the Nile Delta and Faiyum to best understand their needs and grow their businesses sustainably. This means offering subsidies like fertilizer and agricultural consultants to help offset operating costs, as well as guaranteed pricing. Like gold, cotton is a commodity whose value fluctuates, so by offering a set price, we reduce instability—no matter if the market drops.
From the farms, we make all of our threads and fabrics from scratch, working with local ethically-certified yarn mills, dye-houses, and cut-and-sew facilities, ensuring we maintain best business and environmental practices along the way, as well as 100% traceability.
In collaboration with a local NGO, Kotn is also working to provide every child in their farming communities with safe, convenient, quality education—with a goal to build 50 schools by 2025. With every purchase, a percentage of the order helps to fund the build-out and operations of school infrastructure, salaries and technical training for teachers, books and supplies, water and electricity, and maintenance for the roads that link our schools to our communities. To date, Kotn has built two schools, with three more underway this summer (2019).
Our core products are our Women's and Men's Essential Crews. Starting with men's, it was our first product and is still our best selling, most essential-essential. We might be biased, but they're the softest t-shirts you will ever wear.
At Kotn, we believe that traceability—the knowledge of where a product came from, who made it, where, and when—shouldn’t be a luxury, but a standard. So as mentioned above, we work on a direct-trade model with a fully traceable supply chain, ensuring best-business practices and employee wellbeing at every stage. We focus on long-staple Egyptian cotton, which is a natural, biodegradable fibre, that is stronger and longer lasting than 90% of cotton on the market. Making all of our threads and fabrics from scratch, we use only OEKO-TEX® non-toxic certified dyes, and a closed-loop water system that cleans and purifies all water before releasing it. We're actively working to reduce our environmental impact at every stage, including currently using 100% recyclable packaging for our stores and e-commerce orders.