What Khaite Did Next
Every once in a while, a designer comes along that knows exactly what the modern woman’s wardrobe needs. Cate Holstein is one such designer. The quiet force behind New York brand Khaite, it’s Holstein’s vision of subtle, understated elegance that has attracted a legion of fashionable fans since the label’s launch in 2016.
A young brand with an aura of old-school wisdom, Khaite’s aesthetic could be described through the lens of Holstein’s expert eye for fabric - a soft-focus romanticism that wraps familiar staples in tactile, delicate details. A whisper of tulle shrouding a carefully-crafted silhouette; a vintage velveteen finish; a buttery soft leather that melts to the touch of the wearer.
Nevertheless, subtlety and sophistication does not mean a softly-softly approach. Khaite’s vision is firmly rooted in modernity, in the quiet but consistent strength of a woman who knows exactly who she is and how she likes to dress. “In the last four years Khaite has really asserted itself as the go-to brand for chic, elevated basics,” explains fashion editor Chrissy Rutherford, a longstanding Khaite fan. “I think it has a very New York attitude, like, I don’t want to spend a lot of time putting my look together, but I want to look good.”
Reflecting on the label’s most hyped moment to date - Katie Holmes flagging a yellow taxi in the brand’s cashmere bralette and cardigan in 2019 - it seems apt that this image became so iconic for the brand. After all, here was the embodiment of the Khaite woman - elegant, effortlessly stylish, ever-so-slightly nostalgic (Dawson’s Creek 4EVA), but nevertheless assertive (no one gets between a busy New York woman and her cab.)
Thus when Browns looked to celebrate its 50th anniversary with an exclusive capsule collection, Holstein had the ideal pieces right up her perfectly-cut sleeve.
“Each Khaite piece is designed to be cherished, and that is a matter of feeling,” says Holstein of the Browns 50 collection. “It’s about tactility—of being true to our foundation in materials and fabrications—but it’s also about the emotional side, that intangible quality that makes you reach for a particular sweater, coat, or pair of jeans, time after time.”
It’s this combination of memory and modernity that lies at the heart of the Browns 50 celebrations, as we remember half a decade of fashion and look forward to the future. Whilst the label focuses on the classics, their offering has their eyes firmly trained on the future, and servicing the sartorial needs of the modern woman within it (a case in point: the label’s sleek use of tech to present their SS21 collection via CGI renderings when the Covid-19 pandemic prevented a traditional show.)
Proving the point, even the “waist-up” dressing that has become the 2020 Zoom-ready wardrobe brief is catered for in Khaite’s Browns 50 collection. A gauzy, asymmetric tulle top, dramatic bell sleeves and a plunging neckline to add a little festive drama to a holiday party, even one enjoyed via a screen. Once again, Holstein subtly answers the needs of the modern woman’s wardrobe, without any compromise on style.
“You don't have to think too hard about how to wear or style any piece because it's undeniably going to be the star of any look,” Rutherford continues. “I think the modern woman is less concerned with trends. She wants pieces that are good quality, made fairly, fit well, make her feel confident, and she’s not going to want to put them in the back of her closet next year—and Khaite really checks all those boxes.”
Words by Georgia Graham