A Love, Not Ob­ses­sion

Shoes & Accessories - - Content -

Re­cently the world woke to the tragic news of Kate Spade’s death. Her ac­ces­sories line was known for its quin­tes­sen­tial pop of color and bright pat­terns, and it was the orig­i­nal­ity of her busi­ness model that al­lowed her to carve out a foothold in the wellestab­lished world of lux­ury hand­bag brands.

Born as Kather­ine Noel Bros­na­han, Kate Spade, also known as Kate Valen­tine, was born in the year 1962 in the Amer­i­can state of Mis­souri. Kate grad­u­ated with a jour­nal­ism de­gree in 1985 and went to work in the ac­ces­sories de­part­ment at the fash­ion mag­a­zine Made­moi­selle, where she met her fu­ture hus­band Andy Spade. She left the mag­a­zine in 1991, but while work­ing for the magzine she had no­ticed that the mar­ket lacked stylish and sen­si­ble hand­bags.

For her, fash­ion was a love, but not an ob­ses­sion. She once ad­mit­ted that her orig­i­nal goal was to be­come a tele­vi­sion pro­ducer. Kate and her hus­band iden­ti­fied a mar­ket for qual­ity stylish hand­bags, and founded Kate Spade New York in 1993. She didn’t make profit for the first three years, and when the Bar­neys and Fred Se­gal re­tail chains found her at a trade show, the first batch of bags were ex­ported from crammed card­board boxes in the Spades’ Tribeca loft.

The brand opened its first store in New York in 1996, with the stated aim of de­sign­ing per­fect hand­bag. Its logo was the spades play­ing card sym­bol, and its bright and colour­ful pat­terned de­signs be­came a hall­mark of its prod­ucts.

Kate’s ac­ces­sories line was known for its quin­tes­sen­tial pop of color and bright pat­terns, and it was the orig­i­nal­ity of her busi­ness model that al­lowed the en­tre­pre­neur to carve out a foothold in the well-es­tab­lished world of lux­ury hand­bag brands. The hand­bags she de­signed and pro­duced quickly gained pop­u­lar­ity, thanks to their so­phis­ti­ca­tion and af­ford­abil­ity. They had been de­scribed as a sym­bol of New York City in the 1990s. Soon the com­pany ex­panded into other prod­uct lines, and her ac­ces­sories em­pire grew to hun­dreds of shops in­ter­na­tion­ally.

In an era of clas­sic Euro­pean lux­ury brands, she be­came a fash­ion icon through her hand­bags that were both vis­ually ap­peal­ing and af­ford­able. But in 1999, she sold a 56-per­cent stake in her busi­ness to Neiman Mar­cus Group, and in 2006 sold the rest of her shares. In 2016, Kate and Andy, with an­other part­ner, launched a new fash­ion brand, Frances Valen­tine.

Kate, an ac­com­plished woman, a global fash­ion icon, was found dead last month in an ap­par­ent sui­cide, hang­ing from a scarf on a bed­room door. She was 55, and is sur­vived by her hus­band, Andy, and her 13-year-old daugh­ter, Frances Beatrix Spade. To the leg­end, we say, you will be re­mem­bered.

Kate Spade

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