Rebel With A Cause: Kayti O’Connell of MATE Vintage

45Kayti O’Connell, founder of MATE Vintage, has an eye for rad vintage finds. She began MATE Vintage in 2011 with a goal to deliver a great collection of hand-selected vintage tees and to combine her love of vintage fashion with a philanthropic cause.

The original Mate Vintage collection features hand-selected vintage tees, currently a few rad biker Harley Davidson tees and an amazing vintage Paul McCartney tour tee (hurry – there’s obviously only one)!

Additionally, Kayti developed MATE Vintage: Collabs for a Cause, a co-production of local artists and MATE, who collaborate in a collection and donate a portion of the proceeds to charity of choice.

Kayti holds many titles: entrepreneur, vintage hunter, curator, stylist, and philanthropist, just to name a few. Her latest project, ‘MATE the Label’ will add designer to the list of her admirable skills. This awesome LA gal took time from her hectic schedule to talk to The Cult about MATE Vintage and its upcoming endeavors.


THE CULT: What inspired you to start MATE Vintage?

KAYTI: It has always been a goal of mine to figure out how I can make what I love doing coincide with my work. MATE is a culmination of everything I love…vintage hunting, styling, photography, and finding little ways to make a contribution to causes that I care about.

The idea of selling vintage tees came to me after I kidnapped my friend’s vintage New York Knicks tee for a week. It was literally the only thing I wore…I rocked it out to dinners, to bars, to bed, to brunch and repeated this until she rightfully claimed it back. There are very few clothing items that you can wear on a 24 hour basis, seasonless, and make you feel really badass. That is why I LOVE vintage tees!


THE CULT: Any recent awesome gems that you’ve found?

KAYTI: Ahh yes! Every time I go vintage hunting I come across amazing pieces and I always have to remind myself that I am shopping for my customers and not myself. Every item I sell through MATE I personally love and it is always a little difficult to see them go. However, there are a few pieces that I refuse to sell and I must keep for myself. My boyfriend recently found his first concert tee that happens to be Michael Jackson’s 1988 Bad Tour and he gave it to me! I rock it all.the.time.


THE CULT: Tell us more about Collabs with a Cause

KAYTI: Collabs with a Cause is one of my favorite aspects of MATE. The concept is fairly new and one that really excites me. I seek out designers/brands that inspire me and we co-design exclusive items sold through MATE.  In turn, a percentage of profits are donated to charity. It has been a great way to work with very talented and amazing designers (Pandeia, Wild & Free, and LUXLA) for a good cause.


THE CULT: What brand would you love to see partner with MATE?

KAYTI: I am inspired by brands that are 100% made in the USA and also brands that re-cycle fabrics to use for their garments. I think it is important for companies and consumers to be knowledgeable about where their products come from and how their product/purchases impact the environment. With that being said, I love everything about The Reformation. They really nail balancing style and being green.


THE CULT: What’s the inspiration behind MATE the Label?

KAYTI: I am taking everything I LOVE about vintage tees and applying it to the label. I LIVE in my vintage muscle tanks and really wanted to re-create the perfect vintage inspired tee. MATE the label is for the dream chasers, the rebels with a cause, the midnight ramblers and for girls that recognize that their purchases can make a difference.

MATE the label has also been born out of the desire to figure out a way to make a bigger impact. I have always LOVED animals and wanted to find a way in which I can help support. A percentage of profits from the line will be going towards the ASPCA, an organization that works to rescue animals from abuse, pass humane laws and share resources with shelters nationwide.


THE CULT: When do we get to see a tease?

KAYTI: Soon! We are currently in the production process. If everything goes to plan, I am hoping to launch early March!


Here’s a sneak peek at some of the inspiration for the upcoming label:


Shop MATE Vintage here

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