Photography by Simon Wilson
New Zealand label Kowtow was born in 2007 from desire to create ethical clothing and a fashion-forward, global-thinking brand. 11 years on, and having deservedly built an international following, Kowtow has opened their very first store – a flagship space in their hometown of Wellington.
Japanese architecture and joinery inspired the aesthetic, most clearly referenced in those beautiful slatted timber panels that divide the space and provide shelving and display.
Sustainability and traceability is core to everything Kowtow do, so it makes sense that the brand’s founder and Creative Director Gosia Piatek would execute these same values in the design of the flagship… They’ve used New Zealand grown and milled sustainable timber throughout; the countertops are tiled with ceramic tiles handmade by New Zealand’s Gidon Bing; the floor rugs are made from recycled synthetics (including salvaged fishing nets); the modular sofa by New Zealand designer Simon James is upholstered with renewable and compostable fibres; the beautifully thick linen drapes are made using sustainable materials and production methods; and those massive paper lights (Hotaru Buoy pendants) – they’re produced by a Japanese family that’s been handing down the traditional craft of paper lanterns since 1891.
OK I have a job for you to do – scroll back up and and have another, closer look at all those photographs. Really see each image. The balance of soft and structural is so well done, don’t you think? Those concrete floors and big concrete pillars, against the delicacy of the folded paper lights and the individually handmade ceramic tiles. The structure and lightness of all those vertical timber slats, next to the thick linen drapes, hanging heavy in loose folds. Ugh. So good.
The space mirrors not only the Kowtow values but the aesthetic of their garments in many ways – strong silhouettes, soft minimalism, and complete attention to every. last. detail.