Interviewed by Leslie Criss | Photographed by Joe Worthem
Kate Newman, who was born and raised in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, has been in the fashion business for 20 years. She has a degree in apparel and textiles and a concentration in fashion retail from the University of Alabama. She has been a retail sales associate, an account executive for Loro Piana in New York City, a buyer and a store manager, including, most recently, store manager of Oxford’s Village Tailor.
“From the moment I helped my first customer, I was hooked and knew I wanted to own my own store one day,” she said. And in August, she opened Style Assembly in Oxford.
In addition to loving fashion and the retail business, she is a “Real Housewives” franchise super fan and a huge sports enthusiast. She is married to Christopher, a proud Ole Miss alumnus and a marketing professor in the School of Business, and they have two boys, 4-year-old Woods and 9-month-old Hayes, and a lab named Pepper. A secret hobby of Newman’s: She loves to hunt when life will allow it.
Q: How have you been involved in bringing the fashion concentration back to Ole Miss, and why is this exciting for the school?
A: I always knew I wanted to somehow get involved in academics and help open doors for students as my professors did for me at Alabama. I taught IMC 315, fashion merchandising, this past spring in the Integrated Marketing and Communications department. Fashion is a huge, ever-changing, fast-paced industry that is a natural fit for the principles of the IMC department. The students are passionate about fashion and have even started their own, impressive, fashion magazine, UM Square Magazine. To be able to help even one student successfully navigate the fashion industry has been incredibly rewarding, and I hope Ole Miss continues to offer this concentration.
Q: Tell us about your new store.
A: I opened Style Assembly on Aug. 19 at 203 N. Lamar Blvd., just off the Square. Style Assembly is dedicated to sophisticated, sensible and effortless dressing for every occasion. I wanted to create an environment where women feel comfortable shopping and could find items to add to their wardrobe no matter their budget, size or shape. Our team’s goal is to help our clients “assemble” their style, hence the name Style Assembly.
Q: What are your thoughts on this fall’s fashion? What might be influencing it?
A: The consistent theme was edited brand offerings, sustainability and great fabrics that could be worn for many seasons. Each designer seemed to focus on their strengths. Whether COVID played a role or not, I couldn’t say, but the market felt practical and focused and fun. Everyone was just excited to be making clothing and to be back in business.