A Love, Not Obsession
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.