A Kate of All Spades
by Laura Martinez
Kate Spade was so much more than a designer -- she was an icon, a visionary, a groundbreaker, a mother, a woman. She built an empire from the ground up, and did so in the surprisingly male-centric fashion industry of the 90’s. She was fearless in her pursuit of her passion, and did not conform to modern fashion trends.
Starting the company with her husband from their apartment in 1993, Spade began the line with six simple handbag designs that she believed every working woman needed. “I grew up in the Midwest, where you have to have it [a fashion item] because you like it, not because you’re supposed to have it,” she said in a 2004 interview. “For our customers, fashion is in the right place in their life. It’s an adornment, not an obsession.” Spade’s practical approach to fashion increased the brand’s appeal to the working class woman. The brand went on to expand to accessories, clothing, shoes, home decor, and trinkets before Spade sold the brand in 2006.
A Kate Spade purse was more than just a purse, it was a rite of passage into adulthood for thousands of women. Her brand become one of the first true “lifestyle” brands, embodying an entire persona for girls to emulate. And what a fabulous persona it was: classy, feminine, fearless, and undoubtedly herself.
Kate Spade’s legacy will undoubtedly live on for decades to come through her iconic brand. Today, we celebrate her life, but we also must note her death came far too soon. Her passing is testimony that no matter the level of fame, fortune, glamour and success, people can still fall victim to anxiety, depression, self-doubt and feelings of not being good enough. We want to stress that no matter what, there is always room to improve your mental health, there is always someone that cares about you (hi! me!), and there is always hope. And on the flip side of that: you never know the battle others are facing, so be extra kind, smile at a stranger, and tell your loved ones you care. If you or someone you know is struggling with suicidal thoughts, please, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255.
“If you’re as honest and fair as you can be, not only in business but in life, things will work out. I hope that people remember me not just as a good businesswoman but as a great friend — and a heck of a lot of fun.” - Kate Spade