Kotn Continues Its Ethical Fashion Footprint With New NYC Store

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In an era where sustainability and ethical production are paramount, Kotn is a brand that stands out. The Canadian clothing retailer, renowned for its commitment to crafting high-quality products while honoring the people involved in its production, has made significant strides in expanding its retail presence. “Designed in Canada and ethically and sustainably made in the Nile Delta,” Kotn’s mission resonates with many conscious consumers. The brand’s latest milestone is the opening of its second store in New York City, located in the vibrant Lower East Side.

Kotn’s journey began in Canada, but the brand has swiftly gained a loyal following in the United States through its robust online presence and its expanding network of physical stores. CEO and co-founder Rami Helali attributes this success to Kotn’s unique blend of high-quality products and a deep commitment to sustainability and ethical practices.

“Our goal has always been to create beautiful products while honoring the people and places that make them,” Helali explains. This philosophy has driven Kotn to maintain a transparent supply chain, ensuring everyone involved is acknowledged and respected. The company’s online sales in the US have surged, prompting the decision to open physical stores in key markets like Los Angeles and New York.

The move to brick-and-mortar retail was a natural progression for Kotn, a brand that values physical stores’ personal touch and community connection. In discussing the history of retail, Helali notes, “There’s a very potent and unique relationship with our neighborhood shops, shop owners, and the people that work there,” emphasizing the importance of having a physical retail presence. By 2017, just two years after launching, Kotn opened its first store in Toronto. Today, with ten stores across North America and more on the horizon, Kotn continues to build a significant retail presence.

Lower East Side Store

The new Lower East Side store is on the corner of Grand and Orchard. The building holds significance beyond the brand, sitting only a few blocks from Helali’s first NYC apartment. “I walked by this pink building every day. It’s a landmark in the neighborhood. I was early in my career when I walked by, and I remember thinking this is such a stunning, underappreciated building -I hope one day I get to do something here. It’s one of those full circle moments that fell into our laps,” shared Helali.

Like all of Kotn’s locations, the store embodies the ethos of blending contemporary design with cultural heritage. “The store’s architecture has a lot of inspiration from the east. For instance, the arches throughout the space and we fly in an antique door from Egypt,” says Helali, adding that “we really like marrying design languages from the East and the West.”

Upon entering the Lower East Side store, customers are greeted with warm, inviting interiors that reflect the brand’s Egyptian roots. Antique doors, traditional tiling, and thoughtfully curated spaces create a luxurious and welcoming atmosphere. The store also features a gallery and community space dedicated to showcasing artists from the Middle Eastern and North African (SWANA) regions, providing a platform for underrepresented voices and further integrating Kotn into the local community.

Expansion Plans

Kotn’s ambitions extend far beyond North America. With ten stores already established across the continent, the brand is setting its sights on global expansion. Europe and Asia are next on the horizon, with plans to open stores in these regions in the coming years. Additionally, Kotn is exploring the hospitality sector, aiming to create spaces that extend its community-focused retail experience into new realms.

Other Canadian brands are also making their mark in the US market. Smaller digital-first brands like Mejuri, known for fine jewelry, and Frank And Oak have successfully expanded into the US. Similarly, Everlane, an American brand emphasizing transparency in its supply chain, shares Kotn’s dedication to ethical practices. It has seen significant growth with its physical store openings now at 11 locations across the US and Canada.

Kotn’s thoughtful approach to expansion, grounded in sustainability and ethical practices, sets it apart in this competitive landscape. Helali emphasizes the importance of growing responsibly, ensuring new stores offer high-quality products and contribute positively to surrounding communities. “Connection is something that’s fallen back at times, and we try to bring it forward as much as we can to our events and our partnerships,” he says. These moments of connection and unique experiences are present across all the brand’s stores. An example is the brand’s fruit stand, set up in its Toronto flagship store, and sells Egyptian mangoes from the village where Hilali’s family comes from.

Kotn’s expansion into the Lower East Side and beyond is a testament to the brand’s commitment to ethical fashion and community engagement. As consumers continue to prioritize sustainability, Kotn’s model offers a compelling example of how businesses can grow responsibly. With plans for further expansion and new ventures in hospitality, Kotn is just getting started.

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