The craze for Fair Trade food products has been around here for a long time. Now the time has come for responsible fashion. KOKOworld is a Polish brand that for seven years has been operating following the Fair Trade trend, where respect, trust, transparent rules and fair payment are a pillar of cooperation between parties.
Smaller does not mean weaker. More and more often, you can hear about the successes of small companies that doggedly and persistently set up businesses and take the leading position in the industry. The beginnings are never easy, but the stories and passions of people who stand behind a brand’s creation show that small entrepreneurs constantly have an appetite for more.
While the success of many business ventures results from demand and cold calculation, in the case of KOKOworld the factors of success are passion, dreams and determination of Agata Kurek – the founder of the brand. In each person’s life there is a moment when bigger or smaller changes need to be made. For Agata, such a time came eight years ago, when she quit her job in a corporation, packed up and set off with her daughter on a journey that changed her life.
The destination was Mali in West Africa. The expedition and new acquaintances inspired Agata to combine her love for fashion, music, dance, travel, various cultures and handicrafts, and changed them into a new life goal. She decided to create a company that produces unique clothes, and at the same time helps outstanding craftsmen from all corners of the world. This is how a truly socially engaged brand was created.
Six years ago on an April morning, Rana Plaza factory in Bangladesh collapsed, burying over a thousand people underneath. As it turned out, some of the customers of the producers, who disregarded workers’ rights and exploited employees, included many well-known clothing brands, also from Poland. The consequence of the tragedy was the crisis of many companies, which after the scandal declared their plans to improve their working conditions.
Millions of consumers shifted their attention towards the fate of those who sew clothes. This is how the Fashion Revolution was born, focusing on the issues of responsible production, which begins with the improvement of the lives of farmers producing cotton. This movement almost immediately came to Poland. One of the first Polish clothing brands operating in accordance with the Fair Trade rules was a company from Kraków.
During her trips, Agata Kurek has personally met all the craftsmen with whom she works. The only condition of starting partnership is openness and cordial cooperation. As the owner says: “Every time I travel and meet great people, who despite creating unique handicrafts are unfortunately often unable to provide for their families from the sale of craft they produce, I wonder how I could help them and what cooperation model to build to make it work for everyone.
And it is Fair Trade that really gives them a chance to grow.” Long-distance cooperation requires the Internet, which is fortunately already available in even the least developed corners of the world. Thanks to it, a business partner from a distant Indonesian island can send pictures of new material designs, which after a while are in the mail inbox in Kraków.
RANGE OF PRODUCTS
The idea of Fair Trade is that every craftsman receives a fair payment, regardless of whether the materials were provided by Patryk from Wieliczka or Kis Herry from Indonesia. That is why KOKOworld has no spectacular discounts,
and the range of products does not change with every season, as it is the case in popular chain stores. Behind every product there is a story and work of a particular person. Each KOKO employee is known by their first and last name.
The fabrics prepared by supplier partners e.g. from Senegal (dyed) or Indonesia (stamped – batik) are delivered to Poland. The Polish KOKO team prepares clothing designs, which are then sewn in the local sewing room located near Kraków. KOKOworld does not create collections in a rhythm that is typical for fashion industry. New clothes appear very spontaneously – they are usually the result of inspiration or experience brought from trips to distant corners of the world.
Importantly, the fabrics used to produce clothes are usually hand-made, and due to their uniqueness, the collections are usually one-off and limited. KOKO is famous for multi-coloured ethnic mosaics. The most frequent inspirations are the ornaments of far cultures and wild nature.
The brand is constantly growing – the Kraków team consists of several employees. A brand store is located on Starowiślna 19 street in Kraków. The sale is also carried out via a website. The e-commerce specialists at KOKOworld ensure that the brand is also present on foreign markets. Although KOKOworld specializes in women’s fashion, since last year, it has also started to sell its first male accessories in the form of bow ties.
This year, the brand is going to produce its first collection designed for men. Numerous trips result in new contacts, which translate into new patterns and types of fabrics. The brand’s portfolio includes clothes sewn from less known materials, such as lyocell or cellulose modal, as well as organic cotton with GOTS certificate (environment friendly Global Organic Textile Standard), and even a material from recycled plastic bottles.