It’s no secret that the clothing industry has a sustainability problem. Fast fashion is rapidly contributing to climate change, whether due to its use of fossil fuels during production or the pollution caused by the amount of clothing that ends up at the dump.
Think about it. Would you rather have clothes that:
Last for years and look good no matter the trends?
Or get destroyed easily and look cheap, no matter how you style them?
Yeah, that’s what we thought.
One thing is clear: Clothing needs an overhaul.
When we think about fast fashion and climate change, we generally think about bargain fashion sites and quick-changing trend cycles. However, merchandise is a less talked about but essential part of the problem.
From businesses to musical artists to athletics, merchandise is a billion-dollar industry with a serious environmental impact.
If you’re a business owner considering where to source your merchandise, it’s time to explore your options. For too long, the custom merchandise industry has had a few players with obscure manufacturing practices. Thankfully, a new company wants to change that.
Kotn Supply is a wholesale manufacturer of ethically-sourced, sustainably-made clothing. In addition to their booming line of DTC clothing, they also have a custom merchandise initiative, which is seeking to solve the throwaway merch problem.
Keep reading to learn more about Kotn, and see if their merchandise offering could be the right fit for you.
Merchandise Has a Sustainability Problem
Let’s start with the problem: Merchandise is more popular than ever. That can mean everything from artists creating their own stores to businesses giving away tote bags and t-shirts.
But where do these pieces of clothing come from, and how quickly do they end up in the donation bin or in the trash?
The Throwaway Market
Think about how often you receive free t-shirts. Unless it’s a beautifully designed or high-quality shirt, it probably quickly collects dust in your clothes drawer. This is normal. Merchandise is essentially a walking billboard, and most people don’t want to be advertisements unless there’s something in it for them.
Merchandise quickly goes from a nice thought to a serious problem when people throw away these clothing articles at scale.
The People That Support It
For many people living in the United States and Canada, that’s where the story ends. You get a free shirt, you might wear it for a bit to the gym or sleep, and then eventually, it goes into a trash bag.
Kotn is more focused on the story before that story. They’re asking questions like:
Where did the shirt come from?
How could it be produced in that quantity for so little money?
Why is it made so poorly?
And most importantly, who is making it? Are they being paid fairly for their work?
When you take a closer look at the merchandise industry, you’ll pretty quickly see it’s built upon an infrastructure of unethical working conditions and poor materials. Many custom merchandise manufacturers do not share — and some do not even know — the full supply chain that creates their clothing and brings it into their hands.
Kotn’s Vision for Clothing
Kotn is trying to change that. The Canadian clothing company has already made a splash in direct-to-consumer clothing, offering timeless pieces and working hand in hand with its suppliers every step of the way.
Kotn’s supply chain is impressive. They’re one of only five percent of clothing companies who know exactly where their materials are from and how they are made.
Much like the restaurant industry’s idea of farm-to-table, Kotn works directly with a farming community in Egypt to make natural cotton from raw material into quality-spun clothing. They’re a certified B Corporation voted Best for the World™ for proving they are hands-on with each of their suppliers, paying them fairly and treating them with integrity.
Moreover, they’re taking steps to address the epidemic of microplastics in clothing. Every article of Kotn clothing is:
Made with natural fibers
Built to last
Eventually biodegrade at the end of their lifecycle.
Use low-waste cutting methods, upcycle recycled materials, and exclusively use non-toxic dyes.
How many other clothing companies can say that?
What’s also great about Kotn is that their customers never sacrifice style for sustainability.
Trend cycles come and go, but clothing should last longer than a single season or, worse, a single wear. That’s why Kotn produces classic, timeless silhouettes. Their clothing is the stuff you reach for in your closet over and over again.
Basics without being basic, their clothing is:
And always in style
Unlike many other clothing companies, they don’t want you to replace your wardrobe every season. They’d much rather you invest in a Kotn sweater or pair of jeans and wear them out for years to come. Now, consider what that same philosophy could do for custom merchandise.
Why You Should Work With Kotn for Custom Merch
Kotn was built on wholesale manufacturing, but they didn’t initially make merchandise a part of their business.
When Kotn discovered just how big the problem was in merchandise, they reinvented what that process looks like, spinning their own business called Kotn Supply which is already changing the game for custom apparel.
Quality Clothes for Safe-Keeping
Perhaps the biggest shift Kotn offers when it comes to custom merch is quality. Their t-shirts are not designed to be thrown out. From t-shirts to sweatshirts to sweatpants, their blank canvas clothing is already leagues better than their competitors.
Made with 100% long-staple Egyptian cotton and sourced directly from cotton-growing communities in Egypt, you (and everyone else) will want to live in these pieces.
If you’ve ever dealt with custom merchandise before (and as a business owner, you likely have), then you’ll know that bargain sites rarely offer high-quality designs. Letters are often cracked, askew, or flake off after a few washes.
Kotn is committed to producing only the best designs, offering:
They can handle simple vector designs as well as complex multi-colored artwork.
What’s more, they often work with artists and can even source your brand to a graphic designer if you need help putting together a logo or piece of artwork.
You can browse through some of the amazing pieces of merchandise they’ve produced with various clients on the Kotn Supply Instagram page.
You might be wondering how a clothing company that is taking so many steps toward paying their workers fairly and producing only high-quality designs can manage to be profitable. The truth is that the fashion industry isn’t set up to reward these practices.
So, Kotn didn’t look for examples when creating their own business models — they built their own:
They start by sourcing their raw materials directly from smallholder cotton farmers in the Nile Delta and Faiyum regions of Egypt.
From these farms, the raw cotton is brought to yarn mills and spun into finer strands.
Next, the yarns are woven and knit into large rolls of fabric at the fabric mills.
Stage four is the dying process, using non-toxic certified OEKO-TEX that is safe for you and the Earth.
Here, the garment comes to life through construction at our cut and sew and soft tailoring facilities.
By creating and distributing clothing wholesale, they cut out a large system of middle-ground organizations, ensuring that money goes into the right hands.
When you buy a piece of custom merchandise with Kotn, you need to purchase at least one hundred units to ensure that people are paid fairly for their time and effort.
We are quickly moving toward a future where sustainability and ethical business practices aren’t just a nice-to-have feature but a necessity. Kotn can help your business get there first.
Imagine telling your employees, clients, or customers exactly where your t-shirts came from, including the people who cultivated the cotton, stitched the hems, and embroidered the designs.
Kotn offers the type of transparency you won’t see anywhere else in the fashion industry, particularly regarding merchandise.
In addition to being totally transparent about their supply chain, they’re also devoted to community building and social good.
Just take a look at their ABCs Project in Egypt, where all of Kotn’s cotton is sourced:
This philanthropic arm of their mission is focused on improving education and building primary schools in the Nile Delta and Faiyum, Egypt.
A portion of all Kotn proceeds goes towards their goal of building fifty schools in Egypt by 2025.
They’ve donated all of their proceeds from every Black Friday sale for the last five years and, as a result, already have thirteen schools built.
By choosing Kotn as your custom merch provider, you’re backing a mission to help the communities that are the backbone of the clothing industry. It’s a no-brainer.
Kotn Is Changing How Companies Handle Merch
From their incredible artwork and quality designs to their total transparency and commitment to sustainable and ethical business practices, Kotn is a breath of fresh air in the merchandise game.
If you’re looking for a wholesale provider to make swag and merchandise that people actually wear more than once, look no further.
Interested? Check out Kotn Supply’s website and see how their Egyptian Cotton blank canvas t-shirts, sweatshirts, sweatpants, and canvas tote bags can come to life with your business’ logo.