I am Kate Sekules (pronounced like "Hercules"), a writer, historian, teacher, and lifelong mender, whose mission is to spread the mend, foster community, and get us all codesigning our own wardrobes.
I am a professor of fashion history at Pratt Institute, a frequent lecturer, speaker, and tutor (FIT, Parsons, Winterthur, RISD, and British Museums, Textile Society of America, Custom Collaborative, etc), and the mending author for the forthcoming Bloomsbury Encyclopedia of World Textiles. My work has been featured in the New York Times, Selvedge, Fast Company, Vogue, and Nylon, among many others, and exhibited widely. I am currently completing my PhD dissertation, A History and Theory of Mending, at Bard Graduate Center, New York, after which I will have actually earned the title Dr Mend—my alter ego who dispenses mendication Rx in regular clothes surgeries.
I am a board member of Common Objective, UK, and on the advisory council of the New Standard Institute, NYC. I received a B.A. in English and Drama from Manchester and Middlesex Universities, and an M.A in in Costume Studies from NYU, with a thesis examining the culture of stockings and their upkeep in late-nineteenth century New York. In former lives I was a journalist (New York Times, Food & Wine, The New Yorker, Harper’s Bazaar, the Guardian…), entrepreneur (Refashioner, personal wardrobe trading site, est. 2009), boxer (memoir: The Boxer’s Heart, Random House, 2000, 2012), and musician . As @visiblemend I host #MendMarch on Instagram: 2023 is the sixth year; I hope to see you there!
I was born and raised in London, live in Brooklyn with my husband, daughter (when home) and three cats, and was, for many years, a magazine editor. Then in 2009, when that entire industry entered its death throes, I did a 180 and founded Refashioner, one of the first of the now ubiquitous personal closet trading sites.
As I learned more and more about the world of old clothes, and how it connects to today's fashion industry, I realized the way we consume is completely messed up. I got involved in the ethical fashion movement. And I went all the way into research and turned academic. I am doing a PhD in material culture and design history, specifically: a history and theory of mending.
Noting how people glaze over when you say "eco" or "ethical" I always think how great if it was simply more fun to swap and trade and mend and lend and value our own good clothes than to zombie-buy sweat shop fashions. That was the idea behind Refashioner, and the reason Visible Mending is getting trendy. Let's have it last longer than a trend. Mending is forever.