Remembering Kate Spade ♠
Kate Spade, born Katherine Noel Brosnahan, started her career at Mademoiselle magazine in New York City after earning a degree in journalism. She eventually became a senior fashion editor and head of accessories, before leaving in 1991 to put her creative energy toward designing her own line, which would soon become the must-have accessory for women.
Kate Spade New York was founded in 1993 by Kate and her business partner (soon to be husband) Andy Spade. Originally, the business started out with the "Sam" handbag. Shortly after, Andy withdrew money from his 401K account to fund the production of Kate’s entire line of handbags. Her debut line infused classic shapes, colors and fabrics into a now legendary square bag with a little black label sewn to the outside of the bag that said “Kate Spade New York."
In 1996, the Spades opened a store in SoHo, and by 1998, the company was generating $28 million a year in revenue. They then sold 56 percent of the company to Neiman Marcus, the high-end department store, for nearly $34 million. Neiman then promptly sold the full Kate Spade package for $124 million to Liz Claiborne, a clothier that had already acquired Juicy Couture and Lucky Brand Jeans. In 2007, the Spades left the brand, which by then was generating more than $80 million a year in revenue.
Coach (now called Tapestry) agreed to buy Kate Spade & Co. for $2.4 billion last year. A year earlier, in 2016, the Spades and two partners quietly started a new company, Frances Valentine, selling handbags, footwear and accessories online and through retailers like Bloomingdale’s and Nordstrom.
Kate Spade sold more than just the high-end purse. It was the brand that could be worn by high school graduates and CEOs alike. From her handbags to her home goods, Kate brought delight into our lives by approaching simple items with a sense of joy and whimsy. One things for sure, Kate Spade changed the face of female fashion with her accessible, timeless handbag lines which introduced high fashion to a new audience.