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The History Of Kate Spade: Why Her Legacy Will Go On

The History Of Kate Spade: Why Her Legacy Will Go On

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Looking back at the history of Kate Spade shows how her impact and creative designs will live on forever in the fashion industry.

By now, everyone has heard of Kate Spade. The fashion designer has become a household name in the industry due to her namesake brand of handbags and accessories that truly have a personality of their own. From Kate Spade’s first handbag, the brand only grew larger in order to accommodate clothing, shoes and even homeware. But the Kate Spade success story didn’t come out of nowhere. The history of Kate Spade that leads back to her success is intense and is proof of why, despite her untimely death, her legacy will go on.

Here is the history of Kate Spade and the legacy she will leave behind!

1991: Kate Brosnahan at Mademoiselle Magazine

Before Kate Spade became Kate Spade, she went by Katherine (Kate) Brosnahan. This Kate was a journalism major at Arizona State University, where she met her future husband, Andy Spade. Brosnahan always had a keen interest in fashion, shown by the fact that she was working as the Senior Editor at Mademoiselle magazine. It was precisely this role that sparked the creation of her first handbag. After seeing the stiff, plain designs of classic design labels such as Chanel or Coach, Kate Brosnahan decided it was time for a change. This is the beginning of the history of Kate Spade in the fashion industry!

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1993: The Beginning of the Brand

Brosnahan quit her job at Mademoiselle and began her company with the help of Andy Spade. The couple began with a lineup of six purses, including one that used burlap fabric sourced from a potato-sack manufacturer that they found in the yellow pages. Brosnahan combined sleek, utilitarian fabrics and colourful palettes with the simple goal of creating the perfect handbag; something timeless, yet personal.

Here is the history of Kate Spade and the legacy she will leave behind!

1996: Kate Spade New York is Born

Following the hype generated from their first lineup of handbags, Kate and Andy Spade opened their first store in SoHo. By 1998, sales had grown to $27 million, so Kate Spade opened up international branches in Japan. Following this expansion, the Kate Spade line began to make room for more accessories, like journals and organisers.

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Here is the history of Kate Spade and the legacy she will leave behind!

1999: Neiman Marcus and Further Expansions

By 1999, everyone knew the Kate Spade brand. Kate and Andy had sold 56% of the company to Neiman Marcus, and were working on expanding their range. In the same year, the Kate Spade line introduced footwear and even a partner menswear line, Jack Spade. Up until 2004, Kate and Andy continued to expand the company by making deals with other companies for fragrances and home goods.

2007: Handing Over

After building a fashion empire, Kate and Andy Spade left their positions at the Kate Spade company. It was then handed over to what was formerly known as Liz Claiborne, inc. Deborah Lloyd then took the lead as the president creative director of the brand. This same year, Kate Spade decided to briefly pursue a new project — a new brand dedicated to only handbags and shoes, known as Frances Valentine. This is a really important moment in the history of Kate Spade!

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Here is the history of Kate Spade and the legacy she will leave behind!

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2014-2017: Changing Names and a Final Rebranding

Liz Claiborne rebranded itself as Kate Spade & Co, in what would be the second out of three rebrandings of the original Kate Spade company.  In 2017, the Kate Spade company was sold to Tapestry inc., while sister brands such as the younger Kate Spade Saturday and menswear line Jack Spade were shut down. Meanwhile, Kate Spade’s line Frances Valentine continued to be sold through large retailers such as Bloomingdale’s. Despite Kate and Andy no longer running the company, the Kate Spade line had grown from a line of handbags into a global lifestyle brand that aligned firmly with Kate’s motto, “live colourfully”.

Here is the history of Kate Spade and the legacy she will leave behind!

2018: Kate Spade’s Death

When news of Kate Spade’s death by suicide broke, fans of the brand were in shock. Spade’s death raised further discussion on the stigma surrounding mental health. Despite her death, fans of Kate Spade’s brand will continue to honour her memory by continuing to be the quirky, independent women that Kate Spade first designed for. The “Kate Spade Girl” has become synonymous with someone who has spirit, curiosity and passion, and it is through these ideals that Kate Spade’s legacy will go on.

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Here is the history of Kate Spade and the legacy she will leave behind!

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