Styling Kotn’s new woven shirts
I can’t do justice to the story of Kotn. A Toronto & Egypt-based garment brand that started with simple, staple t-shirts made from Egyptian cotton, they just know how to tell a story. Really, really well.
What I can share with you is my own experience with them, and how I keep falling more and more in love with what they do. In my first post about them (read it here!) I wrote the story of how I discovered Kotn on Black Friday one year when they donated 100% of their profits to build a school in the Nile Delta, where their shirts are produced. No sale, just giving back. And that jived with me. A few weeks later, I visited their small but mighty headquarters on Queen Street West in Toronto, just a streetcar ride away from my work.
Kotn’s headquarters is something special. Co-founders Benjamin Sehl, Mackenzie Yeates and Rami Helali have a knack for embodying the heritage of their brand and the place their garments are made through décor and scent, curating the minimal, organic space with alabaster dishes, brass ornaments and other handcrafted items from Egypt.
A couple things struck me when I first walked into Kotn three years ago: first how open and welcoming the staff were. Walking into a curated shop doesn’t always start with a warm greeting, but within 30 seconds, the assistant and I were chatting away about real estate and life and not just the simple cotton t-shirt I had come for. It was so darn refreshing and down-to-earth, and to this day that’s still the environment they cultivate.
The second thing that struck me was just how darn soft (and substantial) their cotton is! Every time I wear Kotn, I feel like I’m pulling on a luxury tee—only, this one is an affordable $30 and has a 100% transparent supply chain, to boot.
Kotn didn’t reach out to partner with me. I reached out to them to get a promo code for you, because I believe so deeply in the work that they do.
- A percentage of every purchase goes towards building schools in the regions where their farmers produce and harvest cotton
- Part of this money is also allocated to subsidizing additional resources to farmers, like fertilizers
- The entire production, from beginning to end, runs on fair labour
- All dyes are natural and OEKO-TEX© certified
There’s so much more, but they tell it more beautifully! Watch their production process from beginning to end:
This month, Kotn launched a new collection: wovens. If you’re like, “what on earth does that mean?” you’re not alone. At first I asked the same thing. It’s a simpler answer than I thought: typical t-shirts and other soft cotton apparel is knit. When a garment is knit, it’s done with a single thread and braided together. It’ll stretch more easily and feel softer to the touch! Woven garments are made with multiple yarns crossing over each other, like a basket weave—and aren’t very stretchy. They feel crisper, and because of that, woven garments are usually things like button-up shirts and trousers because of their better ability to hold structure.
The thing is, if you’re from Canada, you’ll know there aren’t many options for high-quality, consciously made button-ups out there—they’re nearly all American. Kotn is revolutionizing what it’s like to buy clothes in Canada—giving us the ability to choose, and afford, clothes with traceable origins.
From their new Woven Collection, I chose the Shirt Dress in a pinstripe. Running at $88, it’s the exact same price as Everlane’s Shirt Dress—but better, because it avoids duty fees, shipping and the conversion to Canadian dollars. I prefer the length of Kotn’s Shirt Dress to Everlane’s as well. It hits at a flattering midi-length, making it easy to style with booties in the fall, or open over jeans and a tank in warmer months. Even better, Kotn’s Shirt Dress is 100% cotton instead of containing elastane like Everlane’s does, and it has a removable belt for more styling versatility.
So, how does it feel? The cotton is a tight weave, and surprisingly has a little bit of stretch for a 100% cotton piece. It’s lightweight and flexible (no cardboard-feeling fabric over here, folks) and substantial enough that you can’t see through it.
How to Style It
I had a lot of fun coming up with ways to wear this piece! Even though it’s navy and striped, I like to treat it as a closet neutral that has a little bit of interest. As a long cardigan, it’s super easy to throw overtop of almost anything in a hurry without worrying about how it’ll look—that’s the magic of a long cardigan—it pulls an outfit together and streamlines it without the fuss!
As a dress, I can see this transitioning beautifully from late summer into fall. It’s a simple, easy throw-it-on-and-go piece that I can run out with my flats in, but I can see it easily working with tights and a pair of cute booties when the weather starts getting cooler!
If you’re a little more adventurous, you can try some fun ways of wearing this kind of piece—like over jeans buttoned halfway! I love the way this brings out the structure of the silhouette, and it’s so comfy even though it looks more refined.
I’m so excited for this new collection and the accessibility it brings to Canadians looking for these kinds of garments without excessive duty and conversion fees. Kotn has been a staple favourite brand of mine for the past 3 years. Seeing their plans for the future, and their continued commitment to sharing the traceability of their garments means that they’ll stay ranked as my number 1 for a long while.
If you’re in love with Kotn as much as I am, I have a little gift for ya!
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