Everyone From Meghan Markle to Katie Holmes Loves Khaite — Here's How the Brand Became a Hollywood Staple

From that viral cardigan set to what the name actually means (and how to say it), here's everything to know about the fashion label.

khaite fashion brand history

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It's possible that Katie Holmes didn't realize she'd fully break the Internet and send us down a shopping spiral when, in 2019, she stepped out in a coordinating cardigan and bra set. But alas, the look was copied multiple times over, while introducing many fashion lovers to the brand, Khaite.

These days, it seems like everyone who is anyone has stepped out wearing Khaite's classic pieces. We've marveled over celebrity-approved checkered coats, felt inspired by Hailey Bieber's bustier dress, and scoured the Internet for an off-the-shoulder bodysuit, similar to the one Meghan Markle wore for the Invictus Games. We learned the hard way that, try as they might, no one can ever truly duplicate the pieces from the relatively new-to-the-scene label.

katie holmes wearing khaite
Katie Holmes wearing Khaite.

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Of course, aside from Khaite's selection of must-have bags and date night dresses, there's an interesting story about how the company got its start and achieved success. Ahead, we're breaking down the history of Khaite, the fashion brand that makes us "ooh" and "ahh with every new arrival.

Who founded Khaite and when was the brand established?

A southern California and London native, Catherine Holstein began her fashion career at Parsons School of Design. After her junior thesis was picked up by renowned buyer Julie Gilhart, who worked for Barney’s New York, the young designer began selling her namesake womenswear collection at over 40 stores worldwide (including Saks Fifth Avenue, Kirna Zabête, Louis Boston, and Lane Crawford, to name a few). She later decided to take the collaborative route, so from 2009 to 2014, Holstein was a creator for labels like Gap and Vera Wang. She established Khaite in 2016 as the label’s designer, founder, and creative director.

khaite fashion brand history
Khaite Spring 2023.

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The brand name “Khaite” is a play on words, and then some.

Such a unique brand name unsurprisingly comes with a good backstory. For starters, “Khaite” is pronounced like “Kate” (easy enough) and was inspired by Holstein’s nickname, Cate. At the same time, Khaite is also a greek term that means “flowing hair,” which is a nod to the label’s focus on femininity.

Where is the brand based?

Khaite is based in SoHo (lower Manhattan) in a luxury commercial space located between Spring and Broome Street.

Hailey Bieber Wearing Khaite
Hailey Bieber wearing a Khaite outfit.

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What kind of clothes does Khaite sell?

Khaite continues to be an authority across multiple categories, including cashmere, knitwear, Japanese denim, and eveningwear. Its bread and butter are everyday styles with luxurious twists. The brand is one you forever associate with the first piece you fall in love with — and there’s a lot to love here.

Similar to how Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen founded The Row with the intention of creating elevated, quality basics, Holstein set out to create her interpretation of what she refers to as “cherished items” for the masses. The designer previously told Vogue Business that her vision was to establish a one-stop-shop of foundational wardrobe pieces that were high-quality, material-driven, and meant to be worn on a regular basis.

A luxury shopper herself, Holstein admitted in an interview with the Financial Times that she started treating the items in her closet like paintings in a gallery. “I was treating clothes in a way that was too precious. It was more like art — can I touch it? — when what I wanted was something to put on in the morning and wear three times in a week.”

Today, Khaite’s inventory spans from tops and bottoms to dresses and outerwear. The brand also launched an exclusive collection of accessories with NET-A-PORTER in 2019 that has since expanded to include shoes (think preppy loafers and pumps over stilettos) and handbags that range in sizes from small and compact to large and roomy enough to use as luggage.

Mindy Kaling Wearing Khaite
Mindy Kaling wearing a Khaite dress.

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Why did Khaite go viral?

Interestingly enough, Katie Holmes played a role in Khaite’s uptick in popularity (Cate, Khaite, Katie…get it?). Back in August of 2019, the Alone Together actress was photographed hailing a cab in Manhattan, and just so happened to be wearing none other than a Khaite cashmere co-ord that consisted of a brown cardigan and matching bra.

“It was mania. It changed our business,” Holstein told the Financial Times months later. “We dress a lot of celebrities, but there was something about that picture and the way she looked… you can’t create that. It was one of those moments that you would pay a lot of money for.”

A shift in inventory.

Holstein wowed the fashion industry on the Fall 2020 runway when, rather than sticking with her niche, the designer ventured into partywear that gave party-goers an alternative to black tie gowns. British Vogue called the collection Holstein’s “most dangerous (and risqué) yet,” and the then 36-year-old agreed in her reflection.

“I knew all the way through this one that I really wanted to start embracing the word sexy — and I mean that in capital letters, ‘SEXY’ — and what that means to me, being 36. I feel like I'm entering a new phase of my life and becoming completely independent,” she told the publication. “People will be surprised by this collection, especially the darkness. It’s definitely a sexier, darker side to Khaite than what they’ve seen before.”

In the interview, Holstein also describes New York Fashion as “wildly imaginative,” and we think it’s safe to say this new era of Khaite is, too. Tulle was always in the designer’s rotation, but now we’re also seeing shorter waistlines, mesh detailing, daring cutouts, and ruching being incorporated into Khaite’s collections. New York is a city of risks, and clearly, Holstein is embracing that energy.

Rihanna Wearing Khaite
Rihanna wearing a Khaite top.

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The pandemic and connecting with the customer.

The pandemic caused many in the fashion industry to scramble. The new normal begged the question “to go digital or not to go digital?” Holstein chose not to put all of her eggs in one basket, so to speak.

Khaite’s Pre-Fall 2021 collection was showcased via augmented reality so that models could be transported from the runway into the homes of fashion lovers everywhere. And in June of 2021, the label utilized BODS technology, giving online customers the opportunity to create an avatar and try on clothes virtually.

But as Holstein told Wallpaper during Fall 2022 fashion week, “we’re craving deeply sensory, in-person experiences,” so pop-ups and brick-and-mortar shops are still a priority for the designer and her brand.

“Following the pandemic I think we’re all craving deeply sensory, in-person experiences more than ever before,” she told the site. “It’s the perfect time to bring the world of Khaite to life in an immersive space where our customers can engage with the collection and feel our fabrics and textures.”

Kendall Jenner Wearing Khaite
Kendall Jenner wearing Khaite jeans.

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Where is Khaite sold?

Currently, Khaite products are sold by over 150 retailers worldwide via e-comm and direct-to-consumer websites, as well as brick-and-mortar shops. You can find the label at NET-A-PORTER, Nordstrom, Bergdorf Goodman, Shopbop, Moda Operandi, and SSENSE, to name a few. As of 2020, the brand’s official website ships to 26 countries and offers customers free shipping, as well as free returns in the US.

Is Khaite vegan-friendly?

Not entirely. Many Khaite pieces are constructed from leather, wool, silk, and furs. However, some pieces are cotton-based — jeans, certain blazers, tops, and pants — which are vegan-friendly. Each garment on the Khaite website includes a “details” tab, under which shoppers can find a list of materials specifying what each individual piece is made from.

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