25 Years Of Kate Spade

marie claire looks back at the history of Kate Spade's eponymous label

It started where many good ideas do: at a magazine. Back in the ’90s, intrepid accessories editor Kate Brosnahan (soon to be Spade – thanks to a ring on her finger) noticed the need for a perfectly practical handbag to swing down the avenues of New York.

The combination of a dream, hard work and a preppy aesthetic meant that Kate Spade’s oh-so-simple Sam handbag was soon being carried by Anna Wintour, Gwyneth Paltrow, even tastemaker Miss Piggy, as well as non-celebrities proud to brandish a logo with a woman’s name. Its boxy silhouette became a symbol of success and an up-market alternative to the shapeless styles and bulky briefcases toted by executives.

RELATED: Fashion designer Kate Spade found dead in New York

Cue more handbag designs, shoes, floaty dresses and accessories and the dream soon grew bigger than its founder. The label adopted an unapologetically feminine approach of confident colour, pastel prints and polka-dots, with out-posts in the UK, France, Asia and Australia.

Kate Spade
Kate Spade

Fast-forward 25 years and the Kate Spade New York woman is grown-up but still in touch with her youthful imagination. The brand is glancing back for its birthday with a fresh iteration of the Sam handbag, before looking ahead with a new creative director.

Michael Kors veteran Nicola Glass is now steering Kate Spade New York’s path, with her first collection set to be unveiled in September. “Nicola fully understands the feminine, fun and fashionable style of Kate Spade,” says Victor Luis, CEO of Kate Spade’s owner Tapestry Inc. In other words, the bags will keep swinging.

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