Fashion

Why designer Kate Sylvester is selling some of her beloved archive

Article by Fashion Quarterly


As Kate Sylvester launches her own resale platform to encourage a more mindful approach to shopping, the designer shares memories of key pieces, and why she’s passing on items from her personal archive.

I have an unexpectedly small wardrobe. A mere metre of railing that has been incredibly challenged over the years. It is bowing under the accumulation of many a collection’s favourite items, despite its ability to ensure I’m very considered with my purchasing. There are pieces in my wardrobe that I have had from when Kate Sylvester was still Sister (in the ‘90s). I have cared for and restored the items I love, adding new feature buttons where others have fallen, my handwashing softening up shirts and knits, giving them new life and personality.

I have also been committed to finding loving new homes with friends and family for the garments that I no longer wear to make room on that rail for new favourites. There is a huge volume of textile waste that’s polluting our planet, and a core focus for me at Kate Sylvester is to design timeless garments for life, not for landfill. We’ve been spending a lot of time in our workroom investigating ways to extend the use of our garments.


Last year we launched our initiative where we repair any garment from any time or any season, with the hope that customers will fix the little flaws in their garments, rather than throw them away. But it’s natural that sometimes we fall out of love with certain items in our wardrobe. It’s what happens to Kate Sylvester garments at this point that I want to change.

This month we launched Kate Sylvester Reloved, an online marketplace where our friends, family and community (anyone who signs up!) can buy and sell their pre-loved KS garments. We hope for it to become the first place people look for pre-loved Kate Sylvester. It will be where you find vintage Kate Sylvester garments or those special archive pieces that you missed out on first time round, alongside past-season gems that stand the test of time.

As it has been coming together, I’ve seen my staff and friends bring in the most glorious memories. One of the most rewarding parts of my job is seeing my designs lived in and hearing their stories. I’m excited to hear some of the memories behind my customers’ pre-loved garments, and I look forward to sharing some of my own.


Kate Sylvester Reloved

Kate Sylvester on some of the personal pieces she’s offering up for sale on Reloved (from left):

Summer 2006: Young Ideas Go West skirt
“After 10 years I’ve finally accepted I’m never going to be skinny enough to wear this skirt again. It’s too beautiful to languish in storage.”

Winter 2008: Art Groupie dress
“These are Lee Miller’s lips from a Man Ray painting that I’ve always loved.”

Summer 2010: This Charming Man dress
“I danced on the beach in this dress to welcome in 2011. It always makes me smile now.”

Winter 2010: Diamond Dogs dress
“This is such a knockout dress that has hung in my wardrobe for years waiting for a special occasion. Now it’s someone else’s turn.”

Summer 2014: West Coast dress
“I customised my version of this, cutting the sleeves shorter. I love the raw hems with the couture beading – so it’s a one-off Kate original.”


This article originally appeared in Fashion Quarterly Issue 3, 2019.

Photos: Supplied

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