Designer Profile: Kate Spade - From Journalism Student to Fashion Icon

Posted Monday June 16, 2014 10:10 AM GMT

As a fashion magazine editor, Kate Spade took a giant leap to create the best handbag for the modern woman. Her decision to design purses completely changed the fashion industry.

Katherine Noel Brosnahan (Kate Spade) was born December 24, 1962 in Kansas City, Missouri. Kate grew up in in the town famous for BBQ before moving miles away to attend college at Arizona State. While in school, she met her husband, Andy Spade, and majored in journalism. After graduating, Kate found her way to New York City where she worked in media and eventually became an editor at Mademoiselle magazine.

Company Beginnings
During her stint at Mademoiselle, Kate realized her calling was fashion design. She left the magazine and began her mission to create the perfect handbag. She started with construction paper and put together a prototype of her dream design. Using bright colors and utilitarian shapes, Kate created sketches of her future product. Partnering with her hubby, Pamela Bell and Elyce Arona, Miss Spade created her infamous company “kate spade new york” in 1993.

Kate Spade Debut
Kate debuted her collection by releasing six different handbag silhouettes. Each featured her signature, sleek utilitarian shape and colorful palettes. Hands down, her most popular creation was the Black Nylon bag.

First Store
Kate Spade opened her first shop in New York City in 1996. Now Kate Spade has more than 120 stores across the globe.

Selling the Business
Kate and Andy decided to sell the business in 1999 to the Neiman Marcus Group, but they remain active members on the board.

Designs Through the Years
Kate Spade's designs have not varied too much, but one can see subtle differences throughout the years.

The company launched in January and the basic, colorful design made Kate's purses very popular. The Sam Bag in black was quite a hit. Kate's early designs were created with nylon and now most are made with leather.

Kate's first Big Apple store scored a feature the volume 22 of New York Fashion magazine. From the beginning, Kate won our hearts with simplistic details and girlie sayings.

Kate Spade released her first fragrance in the early 2000s (shown below). The basic scent features honeysuckle and enhanced with gardenia, jasmine, tuberose and fresh muguet. In addition, she started experimenting with varied designs and patterns on her handbags.

In 2010, kate spade new york introduced the well-known Weekender Tote.

Today, the brand is an internationally recognized staple and a favorite at Mercedes Benz fashion week.

Kate Spade Lines
Kate Spade currently has three different lines of clothing and accessories.

-kate spade new york
This is the line that started it all. It features clothing, accessories, tech tools, handbags, shoes and more. Along with her Kate's flagship stores, the brand is sold in Saks Fifth Avenue, Macy's, Bloomingdales, Neiman Marcus, Von Maur and Nordstrom.

-Kate Spade Saturday
For the average millennial, this line is the inexpensive way to rock Spade's classic brand. There are less options, but it gives gals a lower price point for simple clothing and bags.

-Jack Spade
This line is all about the guys. Featuring clothes and accessories, your beau can look dashing in Kate Spade-inspired designs just like you!

Kate Spade Books
In 2004, Kate released a collection of lifestyle books to help women become the best versions of themselves.

Her coffee table books include “Manners,” “Occasions” and “Style.”

Company Info
In the last five years, Kate Spade’s sales increased 410-percent.


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