Our commitments as a leader of sustainable fashion

It was a year ago, on the 5th of October, 2018, when Agata Kurek, founder of KOKOworld received the statuette of the Ethical Fashion Leader in the 8th Polish Businesswomen Awards competition organized by the Businesswoman & life magazine! This award was, and still is, for us not only a great distinction, but above all - a motivation to create and promote sustainable fashion with even greater passion. And that's why a year ago we declared that it was just the beginning for us. Join us today on a back in time trip to see what we have achieved during this year.

From the very begining it was our mission to make envrionment and people friendly fair trade projects. And this mission is still on!

Sustainable fabrics

In just one year, the entire textile industry produces 1,2 billion tons of CO2 into the atmosphere. According to many statistics this industry is the second largest source of environmental pollution. Fashion has always existed. But this does not mean that we can shrug and say: "Well, what to do, we have to wear something." No! You can dress fashionable and comfortable and at the same time restrain from destroying the environment. You no longer have to choose between fashion and ethics. That is our goal. How do we put it in practice?

First of all, with every collection we increase the range of our ethical fabric, such as:

- organic cotton (GOTS certificate),

- linen,

- tencel / lyocell (Lenzing certificate),

- yarn from jeans recycling (Tundra sweater), i.e. our gem in the collection Fall Winter 2019,

- PET, i.e. fabric made from yarn from recycled and processed plastic bottles.

Over the past year, the number of our projects made of certified and sustainable raw materials (GOT's, Lenzing) has increased significantly. There were 57.15% of them in the SS 2019 collection, and we plan to achieve much more in the SS20 collection. On top of it all, all the fabrics that we use in our collections have the Oeko-Tex standard 100 certificate. From the very beginning, the mission of KOKOworld was to create environmentally friendly products, created in the spirit of fair trade, as well as friendly to people who wear them. And this mission guides us today. And here's what we win by using the above mentioned fabrics:

- Zero pesticides. No toxic chemicals are used to grow organic cotton, while "conventional" cotton requires around 16% of insecticides and 7% of global pesticides.

- Lower water and electricity consumption. Up to 20,000 liters of water are used to produce just 1 kg of cotton. Comparing the production of "traditional" and organic cotton, the latter uses 71% less water and 62% less energy.

- Less water pollution. Thanks to partners who are GOTS certified, we can be sure that, for example, the process of jeans washing is in line with environmental standards.

The #DENIMolution collection is fashionable and eco alternative to traditional jeans.

Stustainable collection#DENIMolution

We know that the jeans industry is "dirty", harmful to health and the environment. That's why we decided to change it. In 2019, we also introduced tencel jeans, that are an ecological alternative to "traditional jeans" and whose production is extremely environmentally friendly. And this is not the end our denim revolution. The #DENIMolution collection has just started. And it`s mission is to revolutionize the fashion world, ruled by jeans for over 1.5 centuries.

It is often described in the professional press that inventing tencel is a milestone in the development of environmentally friendly materials. First of all, it`s because of much lower consumption of water during its production when compared with production of other man-made fibers. 

- Tencel is made from wood pulp cellulose. Cellulose is a biopolymer, the most common organic substance. It is a structural component of a primary plant cell walls. 

- The chemical processes that happen during tencel production are not toxic and do not pollute the air, soil nor water. 

- The cellulose used for the production of tencel is processed in the so-called closed loop, which means that all process components are 99.5% recycled. 

- Tencel is also biodegradable and it takes around 8 days for its fibers to decompose. 

On top of it, the yarn from our tencel comes from the Lenzing company, a pioneer in its production, that for 80 years has been producing fibers from natural wood using modern technologies. What`s more - aside from tencel-denim products, the collection will also include TUNDRA sweaters made from recycled jeans. Thanks to this, denim lovers will find their favorite products and no longer have to choose between fashion and ethics.

For us, being a pioneer of sustainable fashion means also consciously and carefully choosing partners and cooperators. In the photo Dawid Polony during hand stamping of patterns for the SS19 collection.

Sustainable cooperations

For us, being a pioneer of sustainable fashion also means testing new suppliers, searching, checking and asking. And sharing the result of our research on our blog. Our work also involves constant exchange of information and cooperation with suppliers. In practice this means that we negotiate and put "pressure" on Polish weaving plants to buy yarn from sustainable sources, because thanks to this, we and other companies in Poland, will have access to them on Polish market.

We are also constantly looking for "responsible" partners, and so, for example, all prints on our projects are made at the BLOT cooperative, which is socially active. BLOT is a unique place that brings together talented artists with a rich range of activities in the field of clothing, art, graphics and design. But they also organize trainings and internships for talented young people.

We also cooperate with the KNK-KANAKA Laundry Center, a GOTS certified company that meets all the most important ethical parameters, including social, environmental and economic aspects that prove transaction transparency. This is where we wash and dye our tencel and jeans. The chemistry they use is certified, and washing and dyeing performed with reduced water quantity and lower energy consumption.

And we put our bet on dialogue. Because in the end we are all just learning. Out of the desire to learn and expand knowledge, the "Thursday`s Lunch with Experts" initiative was created. The idea is simple - we invite experts on the topic to talk about fashion during a lunch with us. On 13th of June we "lunched" with the president of the Kupuj Odpowiedzialnie Foundation, Marysia Huma, and we have an appetite for more meetings of this kind!

We love recycling and upcycling because it is not only a great way to reduce rubbish, but also protect the environment. The photo shows cutting hearts from scraps of materials for projects from the Be My Valentine collection.

Recycling i upcycling

On top of it all, we recycle and upcycle.

Recycling, i.e. processing something into raw material, and creating afterwards something new of it, is not a choice, but a duty today. That is why not only make bomber jackets and bags from recycled plastic bottles, but also Tundra sweaters (our GEM in the Fall Winter 2019 collection) woven from recycled jeans.

We love recycling and upcycling because it is not only a great way to reduce rubbish, protect the environment, but also... it is in line with the spirit of minimalism and encourages saving. But upcycling, meaning using of some raw fabrics or object or its piece to create or decorate something else, is also ... great fun and boosts our imagination. It allows you to play with shapes, solutions and the spirit of fun can be clearly seen in our collections. That is why you will find an upcycling accent in many products. On top of it, the next collection will include some patchwork projects made 100% from production scraps!

We have also created the whole KOKOdepartment for upcycling and recycling, which is a guard that makes sure that we throw away as little as possible and use the scraps from the production of our projects as creatively as possible.

Jeans for a better world

Once again, we also organized the Jeans for a better world campaign. We had first collected your old jeans and converted them into new products. The profits from their sales will be donated to support education of female students in Cape Verde.

What was the timing of the campaign?

- October 2018 to February 2019 - collecting jeans;

- November 2018 to February 2019 - producing new denim projects;

- 24th April 2019 – auction;

- April to December 2019 - online sales of products;

- 24th December 2019 - announcing the results;

- February 2020 - donating scholarships to schools.

The whole campaign went simply amazing and each stage was unique, starting from the very beginning with collecting your old jeans! We are very happy that many schools in Poland decided to join in*! The new life to old jeans was given by the following brands and craftsmen:

- Manufaktura Batiku,

- Trashki,

- Gosia z marki Maruna,

- Jola Florczyk,

- Mariqqueku,

- JeansAid,

- Agnieszka Adamuszek.

There's no exaggeration to say they were a real fairies of upcycling who with their hands put a spell on denim legs and other jeans scraps and turned them into sachets, washing bags, jackets and even beautiful turtles! The revenue from their sales will be donated to cover 20 scholarships for the Secondary School José Augusto Pinto in Mindelo, São Vicente Island and the High School Januário Leite in Eito, Island of Santo Antão. Report and photos from meetings are coming soon!

Tomek from KOKOworld with other winners of Stena Circular Economy Award. fot. Stena Recycling

Responsible and active

We know that we can't change the world alone. But we are absolutely certain that we will change it along with others. That's why we believe in the power of networking and we are happy to support others and get involved in their campaigns. It was no different in 2019!

- Black Friday -
instead of cutting prices, we multiply good! Black Friday was first launched in the United States and today is known worldwide as the huge discounts and sale day organized at the end of November. We joined Black Friday 2019 too. But we repainted it to Green Friday. And we didn't make a crazy sale. In fact, we didn't make sale at all. But all we gained on that day, which is PLN 3463!, was donated to Kupuj Odpowiedzialnie Foundation fighting for improving the working conditions of sewer in Poland.

- In April 2019, we were awarded with the first prize in the second edition of the Stena Circular Economy Award as the Leader of the Circular Economy in the enterprise category. We would expect waste management companies to be given that award that`s why we are as much surprised as proud of the award. Especially when we think that the only thing we did was to show our daily work model. In a first place therefore we recognize this award as the confirmation that we are on the right track. It is every day that we put into practice the principles of the circular economy through designing and producing clothes on recycling and upcycling basis, as well as using environmentally friendly fabrics such as biodegradable Tencel or organic cotton or from recycled fibers from PET bottles (bombers) or jeans (Tundra sweaters).

- V4 and Sustainability - educating through film! We took part in the project of the sobi.eco brand, which produces educational materials for sustainable development programs in Slovakia. In cooperation with Deutsche Schule Prag - a German school in Prague the group of students she created a film on sustainable brands from the Visegrad region. We are proud to be one of them. Watch us on the screen!

- KOKOworld in ..... a Polish language classes manual! The book "Global education in Polish language classes in primary school” by Joanna Kostrzewa contains scripts for Polish language lesson plans, including a fair trade scenario based on a conversation with Agata Kurek, the founder of KOKOworld. The lesson proposal with us as a role model turned out to be a success at the international conference in Trnava. Participants from numerous European countries expressed the will to use it in their schools, and the authors reported it to the Department of Education in Great Britain as an example of good practice.

- KOKOworld in ... a museum! Last but not least! The list of "extraordinary" places we found ourselves in 2019 is closed by ... a museum! In September 2019, the Museum of European Cultures - The National Museum in Berlin organized the exhibition 'Fast Fashion - Slow Fashion'. Museum visitors had the opportunity to see the portraits of people who do slow fashion in various ways: for example, a designer who upcyclizes leather sofas into bags or a person who organizes swaps. One part of the exhibition was called"European Fair, Fashion Family” composed four mannequins, two adults and two children dressed from head to toe in slow fashion brands from all over Europe. The goal was to show a variety of ways to dress in a responsible way, e.g. choosing organic or vegan clothes. And one of our these mannequins was wearing our Dahlia Curry roll-neck!

Come and have a sip of delicious fair trade coffee at our store at Starowiślna 19 in Kraków!

Resposible behind the scenes

As a leader of sustainable fashion, we set ourselves the goal of making our actions coherent also in the sphere that is not necessarily closely related to fashion. Therefore, we take a number of actions that affect our everyday consumer choices and, consequently, our lives:

- we do not use plastic packaging to pack your products;

- all paper tags, packaging, boxes are made in small local workshops near Krakow and have recycling origins;

- we only drink water in glass bottles so you can refill them without generating plastic (KOKOworld office);

- we constantly serve fair trade coffee in our Krakow author's KOKOworld store at Starowiślna 19;

- in our Krakow store you can also read KOSMOS - a magazine for girls, published by the Kosmos dla dziewczynek Foundation, which aims to strengthen girls and create an environment free from the stereotypes that limit them;

- in 2019, 3 people were employed under the "Women Activation" program. Funds for the activation of women come from the European Social Fund.

And again we can promise. We're just getting started.