kowtow Review: Black Cotton Romper

kowtow is an ethical brand that I only know about because of Grechen. They’re a New Zealand brand that takes their sustainability and ethical manufacturing seriously. They use fair trade organic cotton or tencel, use harm-free dyes, and are also working on circularity with a take back program. In many ways, you can’t get a more ethical brand. But I wouldn’t love them if they’re clothes were also not modern and chic. If Eileen Fisher and COS had a baby, it would be kowtow. The only drawback to them is that their shipping and returns are coming from New Zealand so it’s not so easy for us in the US (though shipping is free when you spend over $200). And of course the price point is not cheap (though it shouldn’t be when they’re doing all these things right). But because of these last two points, I hadn’t tried kowtow even though they were on my radar for quite awhile.

Kowtow Clothing Review
 

{Wearing: kowtow Romper, Chanel ballet flats (from TRR), thrifted hat}

But I noticed that the RealReal (TRR) carried quite a few items from kowtow, and usually a lot of the same items (which makes me think they’re getting it from a boutique that is trying to offload items and not from individual sellers). Also since this was in “pristine condition”, it was basically new. So when I got some TRR credit I decided to give them a shot (even though TRR’s own shipping and return policy aren’t great). But the price point of the items can’t be beat. I got this romper for a total of $52 (the 20% discount included)! Since their dresses go for about $200-$300 new, this is quite a steal.

Kowtow Clothing Review
 

{Wearing: kowtow Romper, Everlane Boss Mules (reviewed here), Nano Celine Belt Bag (reviewed here)}

As for sizing, I’m wearing a small here and it’s the perfect size. It’s pretty slim on top so if you’re bigger in the chest you might need to consider sizing up, depending on the garment. But since this romper is belted at the waist, it’s really forgiving around the midsection. Looking at their site, I do notice that a lot of their items are made for tall people so if you’re on the shorter side like myself, some of their stuff might not work out so well. Or you’ll have to do some hemming.

Their label reads designed in New Zealand and made ethically in India from organic cotton. The cotton poplin fabric is midweight and smooth. It feels like something Cuyana would use. And the construction is flawless. The bottom part of the romper has hidden pleats on the sides to give you a bit more volume on the bottom overall without adding volume around the waist. The collar at the neckline is slim and minimal. It is in the details of a garment like this that you know that the design and production are top-notch.

So if you’re looking for a simple, modern and ethically-made quality item I can’t recommend kowtow enough. And even more so if you’re tall. As for me, I’ll still be stalking TRR for kowtow items to add to my closet!

Unsponsored Pyne & Smith Linen Dress Review

Pyne & Smith have been on my radar a long time since they’re an ethical fashion blogger favorite. If you’ve been reading ethical style blogs for a bit, I’m sure you’ve come across them already. But I took my time getting to them since A) I already purchased way too many linen items last year (mosty Elizabeth Suzann and Only Child) and B) Their cute linen dresses weren’t really my style. But when Salina had a promo code that gave me a 10% discount and she donated her commission to charity, I decided it was the best time to give them a try. And as much as I wanted to get some linen overalls, the $248 price was a bit out of the range I was looking to spend. So a happy medium was this long sleeved no.12 dress in black linen for $165 that could be dressed up or down.

Pyne & Smith Review

{Wearing: Pyne & Smith no.12 dress, Martiniano Glove Shoes (reviewed here), Acne Studios Musubi Bag (reviewed here)}

First a little background on the company if you’re not familiar: they make all their linen clothing in Southern California from European flax (grown in Belgium and France, and milled in Lithuania). Joanna is the founder and designer behind the brand, and she even answers all the emails sent to the company! You can read more about her and the brand here.

Now about the dress. I ordered it in the medium size after taking a look at the measurements here. I would normally be a size small but I decided to be a bit more cautious and order a size up post-pregnancy. I started ordering a size bigger than my normal because I’ve come to grips that I’m not the same size that I was and that’s ok! And if I ever shrink back to my pre-baby weight, then this dress can easily accommodate that since there’s a tie at the back so I can cinch it smaller. And even in the medium, I find that the 42” length (only 0.5” longer than the small) is perfect for my 5’4” height. It’s not quite midi, but it hits below the knees (a true midi length would look quite dowdy I think). I also love the length of the sleeves, since it hits at a really flattering area of the arm. I also ordered this dress since I can unbutton it easily from the front to breastfeed (it’s a tad tight when trying to take off one arm while leaving the other side on but it’s definitely doable).

As for the linen quality, it’s superb! The actual weight of the linen is 200gsm which makes it slightly thicker than weight of the other Lithuanian slow fashion brands like LinenFox and NotPerfectLinen, but less thick than the linen used by Elizabeth Suzann and Only Child. You can see how they all compare in this ethical linen review post here, which I updated with the addition of Pyne & Smith. They don’t have the thickest linen but sometimes you want more of a midweight than a heavyweight linen (especially if it’s hot).

As much as I love the dress though, I was a bit disappointed when trying to unbutton the buttons to breastfeed I found that several of the buttonholes weren’t properly sewed. So the buttons would snag, which is especially aggravating when trying to quickly breastfeed a wailing baby. For an investment piece like this I would expect it to me impeccably made. But who knows, it might just be a one off with the specific maker of my dress. And overall I really do love the style, the ease of the dress, and the quality of the linen.