One late night in provincetown with then boyfriend, now husband, andy spade, a company was born using kate's first name and andy's last to form "kate spade."
As an accessories editor for six years, kate knew the market well, while andy, a creative director at tbwa/chiat/day advertising, immediately put his finger on the sensibility. together, the couple identified a void in the market, combined their talents, took a risk, and designed six simple shapes that emphasized utility, colour, and fabric. these six original designs continue to be the company's signature styles.
Kate's taste for simple silhouettes, combined with her innovative use of fabrics, was a breath of fresh air in the accessories category. in 1993, with the humble intention of designing a bag she would carry, kate reinvented the handbag, starting a virtual revolution in the accessories market. in 1996, the council of fashion designers (cfda) honored kate and her unpretentious designs by awarding her america's new fashion talent in accessories. two years later, kate was honored once again by the cfda, this time as accessory designer of the year.
In the early days of the company's growth, kate and andy realized they would need help to build the business. in late 1993, pamela bell simotas joined kate spade to help kate source materials and produce the handbags. the following year, elyce arons, an old friend of kate and andy's from their college days at arizona state, came on board and was initially responsible for sales and public relations. within a short period of time, a partnership was formed with kate, andy, pamela, and elyce each contributing unique experience and strengths to the equation.
In the summer of 1996, kate spade opened its first shop at 59 thompson street, a quaint area off the beaten path in new york's soho neighborhood. outgrowing this space surprisingly quickly, a bigger but still charming store was opened around the corner at 454 broome street in the fall of 1997. (the original shop is still open today as a "kate spade travel" store.) 1998 saw the opening of stores in los angeles and on boston's historic newbury street. in the fall of 2000, another wave of kate spade stores opened with greenwich, manhasset, chicago and san francisco boutiques opening just weeks apart. each store exemplifies the kate spade spirit with its elegant, artful design and serves as a testing ground for new merchandise. in addition to the handbag and accessory collections, kate spade stores carry a variety of exclusively offered items such as raincoats, pajamas, scarves, and gloves. in addition, a favorite of staff and customers alike is the vintage jewelry offered for sale that kate herself selects at various flea markets around the world.
Innocently appealing to a wide variety of women, the company's growth continues. "kate spade paper and social stationery" was introduced in 1998 and includes such items as personal organizers, address books, journals, illustrated notecards, and classic pencils and erasers. in november of 1999, kate spade introduced a much anticipated shoe collection incorporating her unique sense of style and sophisticated use of color. "kate spade glasses" were introduced in the spring of 2001, providing yet another natural extension of the refreshing and sophisticated kate spade aesthetic. the "glasses" collection consists of clean shapes, classic proportions and, naturally, an element of surprise. the line includes both sunglasses and ophthalmic frames exemplifying kate's personal style. additional categories will be added to the accessory repertoire in the near future beginning with "kate spade beauty," scheduled to launch in the spring of 2002 in partnership with estee lauder.
As kate spade grows and evolves, a great deal of product development continues to occur within the company. based on kate's love of textiles, pattern, and strong geometric shapes, the company developed a signature, iconic design element. inspired by the op art movement of the sixties, this element has proved multi-faceted and naturally developed into a new company mark and graphic art pattern. various interpretations of the design were incorporated into the handbag, luggage, shoe, glasses, and paper collections and introduced as the "noel weave" collection in the fall of 2001. the company plans to incorporate this signature mark into its identity system and product collections going forward as a complement to the enduring "kate spade new york" logo.
Inspired by the classics, but thoroughly in-tune with the modern woman, kate spade launched a creatively driven website in early 2001, www.katespade.com. reflecting the designer's sensibility, the site is clean, elegant, and laced with touches of wit and surprise. visitors are able to view the current collections, as well as learn more about the company and its philosophy.
Taking a modest, creative approach to design and marketing, rather than the risk being a flash in the fashion pan, the four partners, together with a wonderful group of people, continue to build a company based on vision, graciousness, and old-fashioned hard work.
What is kate spade?
Kate spade was created because founding partners, kate brosnahan spade and andy spade, identified a void in the accessories market. the notion was to develop a well-edited line of fashionable, but not "trendy" handbags. by designing styles that will be as relevant tomorrow as they are today, kate spade has established itself as a modern classic. the bags consistently maintain a high level of quality at a palatable price. the company continues to draw inspiration from famous classics like the harris tweed jacket, the belgian loafer, the poplin trench coat, and the oxford cloth shirt. the design inspiration is complemented by a company culture that places great value on a genuine and gracious manner in all relationships and communications.
Mass, generic dressing isn't very interesting and playing the fashion game can be exhausting. in contrast, rooted in timelessness, not trend, kate spade exists in a world of its own. the original vision for the company was to create products that combined great personal style with long lasting utility. clean, modern shapes, a nod to the classics, and an element of surprise are the fundamental principles of the kate spade design philosophy. chief design considerations remain elegance, simplicity, and enduring quality. this philosophy applies to all accessories that kate designs - from handbags, shoes, and glasses to paper and beauty products.
The first kate spade collection started with boxy, no-nonsense, nylon tote bags in six styles and three neutral colors. the simple, well-constructed design with the small rectangular label has become a fashion classic, hanging in closets next to levis jeans and bass loafers. since then, the handbag collection has grown to include a wide selection of leather handbags and accessories, elegant evening bags, "incognito" baby bags, and a luggage collection. in addition, each season kate develops a well-edited selection of innovative fabric handbags to incorporate into the line. the criterion for new styles endures: if it will be out of style tomorrow, it won't be added to the line today.
Use of colour
Kate loves colour, but with a sophisticated twist. while some like to write colour off as "fun" and "whimsical," kate believes colour is that and much more. Kate believes that accessories should bring colour and texture to an every day wardrobe based on each individual's sense of style. a handbag is only one item to be worn with a complete outfit. add a peony pink leather handbag to a charcoal gray suit, for instance, and the impact is chic with a touch of wit. in the same way that men wear ties to add personality to their clothing, so too should women wear their accessories.