Catherine Holstein is a well-known fashion designer and owner of the label Khaite. She gained recognition due to her thesis, which was picked by Julie Gilhart. From there on, she went on to create her own brand that was launched in 2016.
Since the launch of her brand, she has gained immense success. Her pieces are being sold in 40 or so stores worldwide. The outreach of her brand shows how versatile her pieces are. It comes as no surprise as Catherine Holstein has worked for some of the biggest brands in fashion and has the experience that has led her to run her brand successfully.
Catherine Holstein, a popular clothing designer from New York, was originally raised in Southern California and London, where she spent her childhood. Her father was a banker, and her mother had once worked at Cartier. She had three brothers. She moved to New York when she got accepted into the Parsons School of Design. It was here that her career began.
Julie Gilhart, a legendary buyer as well as a young designer herself, picked her junior thesis for Barneys New York. The eponymous women’s wear was extremely successful and was sold all around the world. It is estimated that around 40 different stores sold that womenswear all around the world. Some of these stores include Louis Boston, Saks Fifth Avenue, Lane Crawford, Kirna Zabête, Louis Boston, etc.
However, Catherine Holstein ended up closing her company. Afterward, she pursued more collaborative approaches and aimed to gain experience. Holstein worked from 2009 to 2014 as a design director and consultant. She held this position in various different brands such as The Elder Statesman, Vera Wang, Maiyet, and GAP.
In 2016, Catherine Holstein launched another New York-based label called Khaite. It is a ready-wear womenswear brand that focuses mainly on American sportswear.
Catherine Holstein claims that she tries to stay true to how she feels in the moment. She believes that we are everchanging, and thus feel changed every time we create. Therefore, she tries to follow her instinct. For example, with her fall AW20 collection, she wanted to embrace the word sexy. Thus, she wanted to create something that fit that mood and defined that word.
Holstein also believes fabric to be the main appeal of a garment. To her, the appeal of a piece of clothing depends 80% on the garment. Therefore, she tries to gain inspiration from the garment itself and design around that. She claims that she never chooses the cheaper option because she believes that her audience is smart and knows when they are being ripped off.
Catherine Holstein has a long memory and claims that she remembers the clothes from her childhood and that she often uses those as inspiration. Furthermore, her journey in fashion began when she started thinking about her own wardrobe and the pieces that were dear to her. Some pieces included her sister’s cashmere sweater from Paris, her mother’s Kelly bag, and a pair of old Levis.
These beloved pieces got her thinking about why no brand offered all of these. She thought it would be so much easier to get many different items from a single brand. When Catherine Holstein brought up this idea to Adam Pritzker, he urged her to pursue it and make it happen. Adam Pritzker later became her future business partner.
Khaite is Catherine Holstein’s label that launched in 2016. This brand was backed by Pritzker, who was Holstein’s business partner, and Vanessa Traina’s holding company. The latter was a stylist and a consultant. With the help of these two people, Catherine Holstein was able to launch her brand, which would propel her to fame.
Adam and Vanessa were extremely capable in their fields and greatly helped Catherine Holstein with Khaite. Pritzker was knowledgeable in business and handled that realm of Khaite. Vanessa on the other hand had a lit of experience in styling and magazine. Therefore, she was able to help in that aspect.
In the beginning year and a half, Khaite gained 50 stockists. This feat was largely possible through the crated Instagram that showed off all of Khaite’s beautifully designed items. Holstein was receiving messages about her pieces even before the customers had seen the clothes.
The success that Khaite had and continues to have is due to the focused approach that Catherine Holstein’s brand has. Khaite is focused on creating luxe classics. Like her beloved items, Catherine Holstein aims to create pieces that can become cherished items for her customers.
Khaite had a cult following due to the tailoring and leather craftsmanship that set the brand apart from all the others. Catherine Holstein focused on the quality and fit of her pieces which eventually led to the pieces themselves being beautiful and of good quality.
Khaite also sells bags and footwear that are a sizeable part of the brand. It is estimated that they make up around 23 percent of the brand’s sales. The shoe lineup consists of cut-away pumps, suede loafers, and low-heeled boots. She stays true to herself even in this department, as you will not find towering heels. Catherine Holstein claims that she can’t walk in shoes with a heel higher than two inches because it is simply painful.
Along the way, Catherine Holstein has made many decisions for her brand that have changed the business and have brought her even more success. She started showing off her clothes at New York Fashion Week, which can be considered a business-changing move.
Catherine Holstein started her brand to provide clothes that people would wear daily. However, doing runway shows includes having a big range that is more artistic. The answer that Holstein came up with was inspired by her grandmother’s house in Woodstock Vermont. Her SS20 collection was slightly boyish but had flair to it. It was simultaneously both; masculine and feminine. Therefore, Holstein started out her brand by giving what her customers needed. Now, she was adding a dreamy aspect to her clothes, which help them stand out even more.
Catherine Holstein has launched many collections through her label Khaite, and all of them have had a different feel to them.
The AW22 collection was a down-to-earth collection, but it had some design elements that made it a bit more playful. The collection channeled the glamor and the grit of pre-Bloomberg New York. Therefore, this collection harkens back to the old days from when many famous New York-based fashion designers arose.
AW22 is edgier than previous collections done by Khaite as it emphasizes a more industrial look. Furthermore, outwear was a priority in this collection as one of the first pieces was a leather jacket with a zip front, an exaggerated collar, and full sleeves. There was more leather that followed this jacket.
The SS22 collection was shown in gloomy and hazy lighting that reflected the designs that Catherine Holstein had come up with. The entire area had the look and feel of a long-forgotten area. Therefore, one might assume that it was a metaphor for the resilience of New York and the New York woman, who rose up even after being forgotten. The focus of this collection was clearly the material and how it feels.
Additionally, it also touches upon how the material makes the wearer feel and whether or not they feel liberated in it. The show starts off with none other than Gigi Hadid, who dons a luminous satin coat. This ivory coat was described to be a duvet cover but elevated by the designer herself. Catherine Holstein also focused on comfort with this collection and was less inclined toward the more fuller look.
Catherine Holstein stepped into the fashion industry only a few years ago, but in this short span, she has made everyone remember her name and that of her brand. Her label Khaite aims to create womenswear that is both comfortable and unique. Like a few beloved pieces in her own wardrobe, Catherine Holstein aims to create clothes that are memorable and cherished. Furthermore, she wants to create a brand where one can find almost anything that they are looking for, and with Khaite, she has successfully achieved that.