Kate Sekules

Kate Sekules conducts transdisciplinary research at the intersections of material culture, archaeological anthropology, and dress history, with particular focus on the history and theory of textile mending. She is assistant professor of fashion history at Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, and visiting professor of mendology at Parsons, has lectured on the methodologies, contexts, and practice of textile repair at institutions including the Textile Society of America, American Studies Association, the Association of Dress Historians, FIT, Tufts, and Columbia College, and museums including the British, Winterthur, and RISD. She is completing her doctorate at Bard Graduate Center, New York, and holds an MA in Costume Studies from New York University. Her book MEND! A Refashioning Manual and Manifesto was published by Penguin in 2020.

Friendlier version...

Kate Sekules

Hello! 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, teach my new class "Mending Fashion" at Parsons NYC, and speak, tutor, and give papers regularly (FIT, Winterthur, RISD, and British Museums, Textile Society of America, Custom Collaborative, etc). My book "MEND! A Refashioning Manual and Manifesto" was published by Penguin in 2020, and I am the mending author for the forthcoming ten-volume Bloomsbury Encyclopedia of World Textiles. I earned an M.A in Costume Studies from NYU, with a thesis examining the culture of stockings and their upkeep in late-nineteenth century New York, and 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 clothes surgeries.

I am a board member of Common Objective, UK, and on the advisory council of the New Standard Institute, NYC.  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 was the sixth year; hope to see you in year seven!

Kate Sekules mending in Brooklyn

A bit more bio

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.

And a bit more