This week the brand opens the doors to its first permanent Australian home in Fitzroy. The design for the flagship space on Gertrude Street, which is split across two floors of a mid-19th century building, was conceived in collaboration with interior designer Rufus Knight, with joinery by Daniel and Chelsey Mitchener from West Wood.
“Material choice is everything for us and the foundation our brand is built on. Working with restricted, sustainable and lasting materials is key to everything we do,” founder Gosia Piatek says. “Rufus understands spaces so well. This is a very narrow, long, old two-storey terraced house and he was able to approach it with a gentle touch so as to not take away its incredible features”.
For Piatek and her team, less is always more. It was a very deliberate choice to use simple, singular and natural materials in the new space. “We work with a very restrained palette so that we can understand where everything is from and how it was produced,” she says. “We’ve chosen spotted gum sourced from certified, sustainably managed forests for all the racking and joinery, linen curtains, and a Bremworth wool rug for the changing rooms, alongside a beautiful washi paper Hotaru lantern made in Japan and designed by London creatives Barber Osgerby. We’ve also created lightboxes above our racking using kozo (mulberry tree) washi paper from the Awagami [washi paper] factory in Tokushima.”
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At the core of the brand is a circular design model with a commitment to transparent manufacturing and responsible trade. Customers can access repair services for their beloved Kowtow pieces, including mending seams, broken stitching, small holes or tears in woven fabric, and button replacement. But taking responsibility for your garments starts at the beginning of their life.
For creative director Marilou Dadat, finding ways to deliver a product that lasts as long as possible and integrates into a circular system is part of the process. “I’m inspired by the mission to not overproduce. It gives me inspiring limitations to work with a reduced but beautiful palette of fabrics and trims,” she says.
Dadat believes that a cohesive and conscious wardrobe should work in different combinations, leaning on neutral pieces as a base and only choosing “colours and prints that one has a special love for, not because they are trendy”.
Later this month the brand will launch a second edition of its Reimagine capsule online and in-store. “This collection sees surplus Kowtow fabric from previous collections reimagined in new forms. It’s been created for the festive summer season with a specific edition of vibrant colours – peony pink, red and cobalt blue,” Dadat says.
195 Gertrude Street, Fitzroy
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