Iconic Kiwi fashion designer Kate Sylvester has announced plans to wind down her namesake fashion label after a successful 31-year run. Sylvester, along with her co-founder and co-director husband Wayne Conway, made the announcement indicating the brand’s closure of operations next year.

The closure will coincide with the release of the label’s final collection, the Summer 24 collection, with operations expected to continue as usual until the mid-2025 closure date. Its six New Zealand stores—three in Auckland, one in Wellington and two in Christchurch—will close.

In a statement shared online, Sylvester and Conway expressed profound pride in their accomplishments throughout the years.

“We started this company with literally nothing more than wild faith in each other and a dream to create clothes that people would wear and love,” the pair said in a joint statement.

Sylvester’s journey began with hand-sewn screen-printed t-shirts imbued with a punk rock aesthetic. As an alumna of Massey’s fashion design program, she initially promoted her first streetwear brand, Sister, through guerrilla marketing tactics such as graffiti on Auckland’s streets.

The Kate Sylvester brand has been a fixture at New Zealand Fashion Week and has dressed prominent Kiwi figures, including former Prime Minister Dame Jacinda Ardern and musician Bic Runga.

While the duo did not provide a specific reason for the decision, the closure announcement comes after the brand’s celebration of its 30th anniversary last year. Sylvester and Conway jointly stated that they have collectively “decided that it is time to bow out.”

“We are incredibly proud of what we have achieved. Thank you to our customers for embracing our vision and making us the iconic NZ brand we have become. It has been our honour and privilege to create clothes worn and loved by multiple generations of women both everyday and for the most important moments in their lives. We acknowledge and thank all our customers who have supported us all these years and most of all we thank our super-amazing team at Kate Sylvester. In the stores, behind the scenes, in everything that we do, it has been the people we have worked with who have kept us on this journey.”

The pair ended the announcement by passing the fashion gauntlet to Aotearoa’s up-and-coming designers, saying, “We believe in the talent of the new generation of NZ designers, it’s your time to shine now.”



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