Birthday: December 24, 1962
Died At Age: 55
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Also Known As: Katherine Noel Valentine Brosnahan Spade, Katherine Noel Brosnahan
Born in: Kansas City, Missouri, United States
Famous as: Fashion designer
Spouse/Ex-: Andy Spade
children: Frances Beatrix Spade
Died on: June 5, 2018
place of death: Park Avenue, United States
Ancestry: Irish Americans
Cause of Death: Suicide By Hanging
Notable Alumni: Arizona State University
City: Kansas City, Missouri
U.S. State: Missouri
Founder/Co-Founder: Kate Spade New York
education: University of Kansas, Arizona State University
Who was Kate Spade?
Kate Spade was an American fashion designer, businesswoman and the former co-owner of the designer brand, 'Kate Spade New York'. In 2006, she sold her stake in the company. In 2016, she, along with her partners, started a new handbags and footwear brand, ‘Frances Valentine’. Kate Spade has come a long way since she started her career way back in the early 1990s when she worked for ‘Mademoiselle’, a women’s magazine. Working at the accessories department of the magazine, Spade realized the need for stylish handbags. In 1993, she started her own venture, ‘Kate Spade Handbags’, along with Andy Spade, who she later married. A boutique store once, today Kate Spade Handbags (now known as Kate Spade & Company) have created a niche for itself in the global retail segment. Her products have a playful sophistication about them, which adds a dash of incandescent charm to the everyday style. Fashioned in crisp colours and graphic prints, Spade created a trademark with her visual shorthand. In her active years at the company, Spade extended its product line extensively before finally giving up the reigns. In 2016, Spade resurfaced into the retail segment with her new brand, ‘Frances Valentine’, and hoped to repeat history with her new line-up. Her life was cut short when she committed a suicide in 2018.
Childhood & Early Life
Kate Spade was born as Katherine Noel Brosnahan on December 24, 1962 in Kansas City, Missouri. She is of Irish descent.
Kate Spade attended St. Teresa's Academy, an all-girl Catholic high school. Thereafter, she attended the University of Kansas for some time and then transferred to Arizona State University, from where she graduated with a degree in journalism, in 1985.
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In 1986, Kate Spade found work in the accessories department of Mademoiselle in Manhattan. She was then known by her maiden name Kate Brosnahan. While at Mademoiselle, she moved in with Andy Spade, a native of Scottsdale, Arizona.
At Mademoiselle, Spade’s talent was acknowledged as she grew from being a mere designer to senior fashion editor and eventually head of accessories. While working at Mademoiselle, Spade soon realized the dearth of stylish yet sensible handbags in market. Handbag, until then, was not an explored genre of accessories and there was a lack of fashion sense being applied to them. They were plain and simple keeps for holding necessities while at go.
With an earnest desire to start up an entrepreneurship to give her creative energies a new direction, Spade left Mademoiselle in 1991. She decided to create her own range of stylish and chic handbags. Together with Andy Spade, she was a team, both professionally and personally.
Debuting with just six silhouettes, Kate Spade launched her own brand of handbags. What made her handbags distinct from those in the market was their modern yet stylish approach. They were sleek with bouts of colour and available in utilitarian shapes.
In 1996, with increasing demand, ‘Kate Spade Handbags’ was born in a plush area in Manhattan's trendy SoHo district. The first boutique, a 400-square-foot shop, was a hit in the fashion circle. Eventually, she moved its headquarters into a 10,000-square-foot space in West 25th Street.
As the name implies, Kate Spade Handbags initially sold only handbags. However with the increasing demand, they extended their product range to clothing, jewellery, shoes, stationery, eyewear, baby items, fragrances, and so on. In 2004, ‘Kate Spade At Home’ was launched as a home collection brand. It featured bedding, bath items, tabletops, wallpaper and various items for the home.
In 1999, Neiman Marcus Group purchased 56% stake in the Kate Spate brand. to the Neiman Marcus Group. Until then, the brand worked primarily from its boutique stores. After its partnership with Neiman Marcus group, the brand grew at a rapid pace and started selling its products through high-end stores like Bloomingdale's, Saks Fifth Avenue.
In 2004, the brand crossed its geographical boundaries and went international by opening a store in Aoyama, Tokyo, Japan. In the same year, ‘Kate Spade At Home’ was launched as a home collection brand. It featured bedding, bath items, tabletops, wallpaper and various items for the home.
Despite selling 56% stake to Marcus Group, Spade continued to remain active in the brand that she had built. She overlooked at its creative output and was extremely conscious of its product line-up. Alongside her fashion chain, in 2004, Spade came up with three books in which she shared her personal style and philosophies.
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In 2006, Spade sold the remaining 44% of her stake to Neiman Marcus Group and took time off to raise her son. The Group then sold the Kate Spade label for a whooping $124 million to Liz Claiborne Inc., which was later renamed to Fifth & Pacific.
Around the same time that Spade gave away her label, she, together with her husband, invested in Plum TV, a small television network that broadcasts in the elite vacation spots: the Hamptons, Nantucket, and Martha's Vineyard.
In February 2014, Fifth & Pacific changed its name to Kate Spade & Company. Craig A. Leavitt became the new CEO, succeeding William McComb. Today, Kate Spade New York has over 140 retail shops and outlet stores across the United States and more than 175 shops internationally. Their products are sold in more than 450 stores worldwide.
In 2016, Spades along with their long-time friends, Elyce Arons and shoe designer Paola Venturi, launched a new brand called Frances Valentine, a collection of luxury footwear and handbags. The names Frances and Valentine are from her family members and she added the two names to her own legal name.
The breakthrough in Spade’s career came in when she started her flagship brand of handbags. Realizing the dearth of having stylish, modern yet sensible handbags in the market, Spade quit her promising career at Mademoiselle to start her own venture with her future husband Andy Spade. Thus, Kate Spade Handbags was launched which rewrote the meaning of owning ‘fashionable handbags’. Today known as Kate Spade & Company, the company has become one of the internationally renowned brands. The chain has extended its product range from only handbags to clothing, jewellery, shoes, stationery, eyewear, baby items, fragrances, bedding and so on.
Awards & Achievements
In 1996, the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) awarded her with America's New Fashion Talent in Accessories for her classic designs. Two years later, CFDA yet again honoured her for ‘Best Accessory Designer of the Year’.
In 1999, Kate Spade was honoured when her handbags were exhibited at the Cooper Hewitt Museum for the first national design triennial, celebrating American design excellence.
In 2004, Spade’s home collection won her three design awards, House Beautiful’s ‘Giants of Design Award for Tastemaker’, Bon Appetit’s ‘American Food and Entertaining Award for Designer of the Year’, and Elle Decor’s ‘Elle Decor International Design Award for Bedding’.
The Henry W. Bloch School of Management at the University of Missouri, Kansas City inducted her in the Entrepreneur Hall of Fame in 2017. Same year, Fact Company named her one of the Most Creative People in Business.
Personal Life Life
Kate Brosnahan first met Andy Spade in 1983 while they were in college. Later, they worked together at the Mademoiselle. Love sprouted between the two and finally they tied the nuptials in 1994. The couple welcomed their daughter, Frances Beatrix Spade, in February 2005.
On 5 June 2018, Kate Spade was found dead in her Manhattan apartment by her maid. She had committed suicide by hanging herself.