Building the basics: Ethical staples for every day

Building the basics: Ethical staples for every day

I discovered Kotn because I was doing competitive research. We were interested on how other ethical Canadian companies were navigating the discount-heavy season of Black Friday/Cyber Monday. Everlane, TOMS, all the regulars. And then out of the woodwork came Kotn: giving 100% of profits during the weekend to building a school in the Nile Delta. Now THAT was cool.

I remember admiring the beauty, the authenticity, the simplicity in their marketing (and their mission).

Let’s just say I was an instant customer.

Polaroid photos showing the production process of Kotn's clothes in Egypt

I was eyeing some of their styles, but wasn’t sure how they’d fit from what I saw online, so I quickly looked up where their flagship location was. I had to laugh out loud. They were literally 15 minutes east from where I worked. You know what happened next. After work shopping party!

Their Toronto flagship is small, with “head office” in the back room, but the man working at the time was SO welcoming, helpful and we instantly started discussing the real estate market, ethical fashion, and the neighbourhood.

30 minutes later, I was walking out with the turtleneck of my dreams (had been on my wishlist for so long!), a cropped crewneck sweater (another big wishlist capsule item), and t-shirt. It was a big spending day—made possible by my wonderful tax refund that year.

And that’s how I was introduced to Kotn. I wore those items religiously all winter, and when spring came around, I attended a customer feedback event and picked up a plain white t-shirt (their unisex style)—which has been on repeat all summer, too.

So, long story short: Kotn is the BEST brand for ethical staples.

Here’s what you need to know about Kotn:

Started by Mackenzie, Rami and Ben in 2014, Kotn is a Canadian-Egyptian company that works directly with garment makers and Egyptian cotton growers in the Nile Delta. Their company started as a way to partner with Egyptian cotton farmers and weavers who were struggling because of a dramatic decline in demand for their high-quality fabrics. You know how it goes—larger companies, cheaper options, lower price, competitive market. Well, Kotn exists to solve that—and they produce their garments from farm directly to store.

About their sizing: you’re best choosing a size up from your regular if you’re not sure. I’m an XS in most brands, and a S in Kotn. In their new wovens, I take a 2. My measurements: 33.5″ bust, 25″ waist, 36″ hips.

Here’s the roundup of my favourite styles.

Cropped sweatshirt – $75

A collage of photos showing a woman with shoulder-length brown hair wearing Kotn's black cropped sweatshirt

I’m a huge fan of simple, easy outfits that don’t make you think – but make you feel confident. This sweater is cosy but still somehow put-together, and cuts at just the right length for high-waisted jeans! The best part is that the inside is like terrycloth, so yes, it keeps you warm—but it’s so, so breathable and great for transitional seasons.

Shop the sweatshirt here >>

Fitted turtleneck – $45

A collage of images showing a woman with shoulder-length brown hair wearing Kotn's Alabaster Fitted Turtleneck

It was a dream to find a fitted turtleneck that was actually fitted around my waist—and didn’t feel like it was strangling me at the same time. This turtleneck is breathable, lightweight, and great for layering (or just shining on its own). And now I have it in 3 colours: black, alabaster and burgundy.

Shop the Fitted Turtleneck here >>

Essential crew t-shirt (men’s) – $30

A collage of images showing a woman with shoulder-length brown hair wearing Kotn's Men's Essential Crew t-shirt

On. Repeat. Everyone needs an essential tee. This one gets softer every time you wash it. I wear it to bed. I wear it knotted with jeans. I wear it tucked into dress pants with heels. It’s so damn versatile (and not see-through—bonus!) that I almost want to buy another one just in case I wear it down to shreds. Basically, you can’t go wrong.

Shop the Men’s Essential Crew here >>

Essential crew t-shirt (women’s) – $30

A collage of images showing a woman with shoulder length brown hair holding luggage and ready for a road trip, while wearing Kotn's grey Women's Essential Crew t-shirt

If you’re short in the torso or want a great hip-length relaxed tee, this is the perfect one. No need to tuck this baby in, it’s my go-to travel top and so easy to throw on without worrying about what kind of bra I’m wearing, what pants I’m wearing, or anything – it goes with it all. The women’s version of their staple tee, this one’s just tailored to a smaller upper body shape while still having enough boxy room to breathe.

Shop the Women’s Essential Crew here >>

Fitted crew t-shirt – $32

A collage of images showing a woman with shoulder-length brown hair wearing Kotn's fitted crew t-shirt

It took me a long time to love this one. I’m not big on fitted shirts, and I wasn’t sure how this one would go. But once I learned that I love it more as a layering piece with high-waisted bottoms, it was a much better item for me! Hot tip: cuff the sleeves casually a little bit, and you’ve got yourself a sweet 1950’s James Dean look, too.

Shop the Fitted Crew here >>

Woven Shirt Dress – $88

When Kotn announced their new Woven Collection of button-up shirts, I got instantly excited. Their HQ is near my work, which means I’m able to hop on a streetcar and try on clothes before I order (or just buy them right there!) There aren’t many options for consciously made button-ups in Canada, and none that I know of in Ontario – until now. I was a little nervous to style this shirt dress, since it’s got stripes AND it’s a more structured shape, but I liked the idea that it could double as a light cardigan in the fall, so I tried it out! This fits true to size (I took a size 2). The sleeves are fitted perfectly, keeping the dress from looking bulky and oversized. It’s got a streamlined silhouette with a removable belt and the weave is nice and light, almost stretchy. It’d consider it a neutral, but with the stripes it adds a little interest to gloomy cold weather outfits!

Shop the Shirt Dress here >>

A pinstriped blouse, rust coloured tank top and taupe suede slides

So there it is! Another Canadian brand just killing it. Love Kotn, too? Tell everyone which style is your favourite in the comments below!


Kotn is an affiliate partner, so when you purchase through the links and code above, you’re helping to support me and my work! 🙂

10 thoughts on “Building the basics: Ethical staples for every day”

  • Hi! Love your style and appreciate your detailed review of your favorite brands. I’m checking out KOTN for the first time, and thought I’d try a piece of theirs but it appears your code no longer works. Just wanted to let you know. 🙂

    • Hi! Thanks so much for your kind words! <3 Unfortunately the Kotn promo code is expired now - thanks for letting me know! I'll update the post 🙂

  • Hello! I just recently discovered Kotn and was looking for reviews on their shirts. You mentioned here that you have the men’s essential crew t-shirt. Do you find that the fit is a little roomier than the women’s essential crew? It’s so hard to figure out sizing when buying online clothing. Thank you in advance!

  • Hi! I love this post, I just discovered KOTN. May I ask if you remember what size did you buy for the fitted crew?

  • I wanted to love this brand, be very cautious before purchasing from Kotn. I recently ordered turtlenecks (in 2 sizes for my daughter and I) as well as a pair of leggings on sale. I carefully checked their sizing chart and believed their claim that the garments are true to size. They were too small and even when my daughter tried the larger size meant for me, the neck hole was uncomfortably small. The leggings were also not true to size compared to similar brands. Kotn would not allow a return on these sale items.

    • Oh no! I’m so sorry you had that experience. I do find that their turtlenecks have especially tight necks (the ribbed styles have less give as well). They soften over time, but I generally do take 1 size up from my regular size in other brands. I’ve given them this feedback on their sizing more than once, so am hoping they will continue to adjust their sizes, as some styles are now better than others.

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