Kate is the creative force behind the recently launched and rapidly expanding Kat the Label, a Melbourne-based intimates and lingerie label founded in Byron Bay in 2015. Inspired by the creativity of fashion from a young age, Kate became intrigued by the intimacy and delicacy of lingerie after studying the topic as part of a broader course in fashion design at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT). It is from this background of intuitive passion and formal study that Kat the Label, a brand characterised by simple, delicate designs that are emboldened by dainty, detailed embellishments and powerful monochromatic colour palettes, was born.
Kate is inspired by her desire to create something new and different with the sheer, beautiful materials she loves, and works to provide women with classy, elegant designs that tell their own, unique love stories. Her work has been featured in a number of publications and has notably appeared in the September edition of British Vogue.
In anticipation of the launch of Allurette, our small, portable wash bag that has been carefully designed to provide the easiest, gentle care for the clothes you love to wear, we sat down with Kate to talk about her label, her inspiration and, of course, the importance of caring for the most delicate of clothes.
1. What sparked your interest in fashion in the first place?
I first got into fashion at around 15. I think I love it because I get to create and bring something into the world that didn’t exist before. I am particularly obsessed with beautiful fabrics, so being able to use them to create pieces I love is what inspires me.
2. What do you love about lingerie in particular?
I love lingerie because I think there are no limits. I can just use the most beautiful, out there, embellished fabrics that you couldn’t get away with wearing as a dress. I also like the fact that the garments can be sheer and super delicate, making them particularly beautiful.
3. Tell us a bit about your label. When did you start it and what is it all about?
Kat the Label started in the spare room in my parent’s house. I had just finished my final semester at RMIT studying fashion design, where I did a unit on lingerie, and I was at a bit of a crossroads in what I wanted to do. I mocked up some pretty, little lacy bralettes and posted them on Instagram to share my creations. It was after the reaction from friends and other people who started to follow me and ask if they could buy these pieces, that I figured out I had a little business.
Kat the Label is about making you feel beautiful, confident and inspired. I like to describe my pieces as little love letters to yourself that aim to make you feel special, even if no one else knows you’re wearing them but you!
4. What’s been the biggest challenge in managing your own label so far, or what’s been the biggest lesson you’ve learned about the industry?
Biggest challenge so far would probably be keeping on top of orders. I tend to run out of stock, which is a great thing, but often means I’m not able to have a quick turnaround time, leaving dull periods where I have no garments to sell.
It’s also a challenge knowing how to grow the business - to take it from the spare room at home to my own office with staff to help out. This is the current challenge I am taking on!
5. What’s been the most exciting development with your label so far?
Most exciting thing so far would be getting featured in British Vogue September issue! I think it is any designer's dream to have your design published in such an iconic magazine. That was a really exciting moment for me.
6. Your label contains some truly beautiful items. Do you happen to have a favourite or is it too hard to choose?
Thank you! I think my favourite would be the Serendipity bralette, purely because it’s so simple and delicate yet so beautiful. It’s definitely my most popular item and was the first piece I hand made when I started the label. I guess you could say it has sentimental value as it’s where all of this began!
7. What can we expect from your label in the next couple of years? Do you have any goals that you’re hoping to reach or challenges that you want to overcome?
Next couple of years I hope to expand my range, get into more technical lingerie pieces, and expand my sizing options. As a small business I am currently limited to minimum orders and quantities, so it will be great when I can grow this.
8. Would you ever consider expanding beyond lingerie, or is there just too much to explore within that field?
Absolutely. I think there is still so much in the lingerie field that I want to explore, but I do have my eye on some luxury sleepwear in the near future!
9. How do you care for and maintain clothes as delicate as the ones you design?
I try to be as careful as possible. I know from experience that throwing them in the washing machine is never a good decision! I ensure that garments are hand washed with delicate detergents and dried flat in the shade.
Garments with fabrics as delicate as mine can get caught on other garments, zips, hooks etc., which can tear the fabric. The actual spin cycle of the washing machine can also damage the fabric as it was not designed for such conditions.
Hanging them out to dry can also weaken and stretch out the elastic, which means the garment won’t last very long at all! It’s super important to care for them properly.
10. We recently gave you one of our new Allurette gentle washers to test. How was the overall experience in terms of ease of use and washing performance? Was it suitably gentle to handle the delicate items of your label?
I love the Allurette bag! The experience overall was incredibly easy. It was quick, neat and I kept my hands dry. I found that with my little lacies this was the perfect way to wash delicately but thoroughly. It’s so important to care for them properly and this was a fantastic alternative to hand washing.
11. Is there a running theme throughout your work or a particular philosophy that defines your creative process?
I guess my philosophy would be to simply keep creating beautiful pieces. Creatively my design process is that I always try to source the best fabrics I can find, and start from there.
12. What are some of your favourite fashion brands?
I particularly love romantic, extravagant haute couture labels like Alexander Mc Queen, Givenchy and Jean Paul Gautier, J’Aton, and then of course the more subtle Aussie labels Sass + Bide and Alice McCall, as I feel they have the similar embellished design approach that I want to achieve.
13. If you could work with anyone in the fashion industry, who would it be?
Hmm … I would love to work alongside J’Aton, as their embellished fabrications and design ideas are incredible.
14. What advice would you give to those trying to break into lingerie and fashion?
I would say just start! I’ve seen so many similar Instagram accounts as start-up lingerie labels, but none of them ever launch their own products. I think the difference between having a successful business and not having one is having the guts and perseverance to start it and not give up halfway.
15. Where can people go to check out your work, connect with you, and buy your pieces? Where do you ship?
My website is: www.katthelabel.com
My Instagram is: www.instagram.com/kat_thelabel
I also have around 30 stores stocking my products now. You can check these out using the “stockists tab” on the homepage of my website if you’d like to see my garments in person!
We [Kat the Label] ship worldwide – literally anywhere you can imagine – with flat rate international shipping of $10 AUD.
A big thanks to Kate from Kat the Label for sharing her fashion expertise with us today. Be sure to head over to Kate's website to check out her amazing work because now, thanks to the Allurette gentle washer, you can browse, buy, and wear something beautiful, without any care or maintenance concerns holding you back.