One of Canada’s sustainable clothing brands has opened a brick-and-mortar store in Calgary — and Daily Hive was lucky enough to get a peek at the new shop on its grand opening weekend.
If you haven’t already ordered half of your wardrobe from online retailer Kotn, you’ll be able to discover for yourself the quality of the clothes it offers at its store at 1008 9th Avenue SE.
Whether you’re looking for the perfect chunky knit for fall, basic t-shirts, a luxurious sweatpants-sweatshirt combo, or cozy bed linens, this is the spot to shop.
The new storefront, which had its grand opening on October 1, is clean, bright, and cozy — exactly what you’d expect from the brand and from Inglewood.
Kotn deals largely in Egyptian cotton, but also uses other sustainably sourced fabrics in an effort to reduce microplastics that come from using synthetic materials. The fabrics the brand uses for its clothes can biodegrade at the end of their life cycles.
Kotn, which is based out of Toronto, started its journey nearly seven years ago when the three people, who would later be the team of founders, noticed a gap in the market — shoppers either had to sacrifice quality and sustainability and opt for fast fashion, or be stuck paying luxury prices (which don’t necessarily always guarantee quality either).
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“We felt like the way that things that we came into contact with every day were made fundamentally the wrong way,” said Rami Helali, one of the founders.
So they started looking at how to bridge that gap.
“I had no background in fashion, supply chains… anything like that, but I think that sort of naive approach is kind of probably what was helpful in the beginning.”
Helali took a trip to his ancestral homeland, Egypt, where he spent six months on a cotton farm to learn all he could about what many would call the best kind of cotton. Not too long after that, Kotn was born.
“And long story short, you know, we work with every single tier of our supply chain from farm to yarn to fabric to cut and sew, so that we know exactly how much people get paid, how they get treated. We provide subsidies for those communities, we buy directly from those farmers,” he shared.
Kotn also makes a point to give back to the communities that provide it with cotton and has helped build 15 schools for kids in those regions.
The team at Kotn has been adding physical storefronts to its arsenal as a part of a larger expansion plan, with stores already in Toronto, Vancouver, and Los Angeles. Calgary’s Inglewood neighbourhood seemed like the perfect fit for the next brick-and-mortar store.
“Calgary, obviously, is kind of a special place with a lot of great little pockets and neighbourhoods and I was aware of the Inglewood neighbourhood,” shared Kotn’s Sonia Fujikawa, who is originally from YYC.
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She and Helali agreed that Inglewood’s vibe aligned with Kotn’s. That, and being an online-first retailer, they had a pretty good idea of where their Albertan customer base was located.
“It’s helpful for us to at least kind of narrow down the neighbourhoods where we have an existing community and then the additional very helpful context this time with Sonia being from here was great,” said Helali.
More expansion plans are in the works, but much like the brand’s philosophy of using sustainable materials, it also wants to expand in a sustainable way.
“I think for us is to take a very like singular market approach aside from Toronto where our home base is. For us, we really want to build that community element and I think sometimes if you do things too [quickly], that community piece gets lost,” said Fujikawa.
You’ll just have to head down to one of Calgary’s trendiest strips and check it out for yourself.