Local Love: An ethically made turtleneck that looks good on you and the planet

If there’s one thing the gloomy winter season calls for, it’s the perfect turtleneck. For this building block of any cold weather look (under flowing dresses or beneath a strappy tank) we turn to the ethical-and-affordable option from local label Kotn

“We all had two kinds of tees in our wardrobe,” says Kotn co-founder Mackenzie Yeates. “Cheap fast fashion tees that were basically disposable and designer tees that were expensive and reserved only for special occasions.”

So how was Yeates — along with her husband Benjamin Sehl and other biz partner Rami Helali —  to strike that middle ground? The not-so-easy answer was to start their own business. “We wanted to create something that was high quality, fairly priced and, most importantly, ethically made,” Yeates says.

Of the trio, Yeates was the only one hailing from a fashion background. However, they were all aware of the top notch quality of Egyptian cotton. The next step was for Helali, whose background is Egyptian, to suss out the situation in Egypt firsthand. Following months of Helali making connections with the farming community and learning about manufacturing, the Kotn team was ready to start producing. 

Since day one, Kotn has been highly involved in the production process. “We actually start with the raw fibre,” says Yeates, “buying directly from cotton farmers and donating a portion of all proceeds to supporting education in the rural cotton farming communities of the Nile Delta.” 

The team visits the factories and farms — not to mention an elementary school they funded and built — a number of times each year. “We cut out all of the brokers and middle men from farm to yarn mill to fabric mill to cut and sew,” says Yeates. This helps keeps the turtleneck affordable ($45), as does their direct-to-consumer business model. Kotn donates a chunk of all proceeds to supporting education in the Nile Delta’s rural cotton farming communities (hence the school).

The result of all this work is the well-priced bestseller, The Fitted Turtleneck ($45). Made in a superchic slim fit, it's available in a roster of colours that will look good while you feel good wearing it. Again. And again. And again.

Article exclusive to STREETS OF TORONTO