Kate Spade - Shop handbag,clothing for the crisp colors, graphic prints, and playful sophistication that are the hallmarks of Kate Spade New York
Kate Spade is the co-founder and namesake of the designer brand, Based in New York City's garment district, kate spade LLC nurtures the emerging Kate Spade lifestyle brand. Originally focusing on handbags, Kate Spade is now also involved in stationery, shoes, raincoats, pajamas, eyewear, beauty products, and homewares. In addition, the company has branched into book publishing and music. Kate Spade products are sold in upscale department stores as well as 15 company-owned boutiques. The people behind the Kate Spade vision are wife and husband, Kate and Andy Spade. The company is majority owned by The Neiman Marcus Group, Inc.
Kate Spade was born Katherine Noel Brosnahan in 1962 in Kansas City, Missouri. Her father owned a construction company and her mother was a housewife. She was not especially interested in high fashion growing up, preferring, rather, to visit a vintage shop to pick up items that her mother might have worn in the 1950s or 1960s. These styles she would eventually emulate when she became a designer. In the meantime, she went to college at Arizona State University in the early 1980s and majored in journalism. At school she found part-time work in a men's clothing store, where she met another Arizona State student, Andy Spade. They began to date and soon became a couple. He had grown up in Arizona, encouraged by his parents to be creative and follow his own path. Even in college he displayed an entrepreneurial spirit, launching a successful advertising agency with a friend. In 1986 Phoenix Magazine named it one of the top 50 new Arizona businesses.
In 1986, Spade worked in the accessories department of Mademoiselle in Manhattan, where she was credited in the magazine's masthead with her maiden name as Katy Brosnahan. While at Mademoiselle, she met and moved in with Andy Spade (brother of actor and comic David Spade), a native of Scottsdale, Arizona; the two were working side-by-side as salespersons in a men's clothing store, Carter's Men Shop in Phoenix, Arizona. Together, they were featured in the magazine as part of a photo story on couples in love. She left Mademoiselle in 1991, with the title of senior fashion editor/head of accessories. While working for Mademoiselle she noticed that the market lacked stylish and sensible handbags, and decided to create her own
Debut of Kate Spade Bags in the Early 1990s
Kate Spade bags made their debut at a 1993 trade show in New York's Jacob Javits Center. The fledgling company was granted space in a far corner of the building, and rather than spending money on commercial displays, Kate trucked in furniture from the couple's apartment. Despite these limitations, she was able to attract the attention of a buyer from a pair of influential New York department stores, Barney's and Charivari, which both bought bags. Even then, Kate did not recover the cost of the show. But it was an important start: The stores quickly sold the bags and ordered more. At the next accessories show where she presented her next collection, Kate simply used the same shape with different fabric. The Barney's buyer considered the new bags to be no different from the first bags, and Kate had to explain that retaining the shape was the concept--it was her signature. The most distinctive change from the first collection was the presentation of the logo, "kate spade new york," attached to the bag's exterior as an accent. In fact, on a whim the day before the show, she removed the tags from the interior and stayed up all night sewing them on front. Barney's agreed to buy 18 of the bags, but only if the tags were returned to the interior. In a stroke of good fortune Vogue covered the show and featured the bags in an accessories layout. Customers came into Barney's looking for the Kate Spade bags with the logo on front, quickly forcing the store to reverse course and insist that Kate Spade return the tags to the exterior. As a result, the bag's accent began to build the Kate Spade brand name.
Kate Spade stuck with the square shape, a consistency that helped the new label to differentiate itself until it caught on with the public. The company grew slowly but steadily, at a pace with which the couple felt comfortable. In 1993 they brought in a partner, Pamela Bell Simotas, who helped in locating materials and producing the bags, and a year later their old college friend, Elyce Arons, became a partner to head sales and public relations. Kate and Andy also became more than business partners, marrying in 1994. In 1993 the company generated less than $100,000. Two years later that number grew to $1.5 million. During shipping season, the couple's apartment was packed to the ceiling with inventory, but the company soon was able to move into a 2,800-square-foot space on 29th Street, which combined a showroom with manufacturing capabilities. Andy quit his job in 1996 to devote his energies full time to the company. After Neiman Marcus and Saks each ordered 3,000 bags that year, sales jumped to $6 million and Kate Spade was able to turn a profit for the first time. Also in 1996 Kate Spade opened its first boutique, a 400-square-foot shop located in Manhattan's trendy SoHo district, and moved its headquarters into a 10,000-square-foot space in West 25th Street. The spaces were designed by Rogers Marvel Architects, a firm that lacked retail experience. But like Kate Spade, it believed in simplicity and the use of unusual materials. The fact that Rogers Marvel lacked retail experience, in fact, was a plus as far as Kate and Andy Spade were concerned. It would be a collaboration that would continue with the opening of additional boutiques. Just a year after opening its first shop, Kate Spade outgrew the Thompson Street space and moved to a new Soho location, with a number of other shops in the planning stages in Los Angeles and elsewhere.