Iconic Designer Kate Spade’s Fashion Influence Lives On
The news of designer Kate Spade’s unexpected passing in New York City on Tuesday rocked the worlds of fashion and retail, where her signature handbags have set a standard in style and quality for more than two decades. But the loss was also felt throughout the promotional products industry because of the retail industry’s strong influence on design within many product categories, especially apparel and accessories, such as consumer-inspired totes.
Spade knew the power of a logo and was one of the first to use a subtle but immediately recognizable logo—a small “kate spade New York”—on the outside of her bags. Her name, always in lowercase, was her brand, and it was compelling. The original simple iconic black microfiber Sam bag made her name a household brand when it was first introduced in the early 1990s. For many teens and women, owning a Kate Spade handbag was a unique status symbol. The classic, boxy nylon bag was just reintroduced at this spring’s New York Fashion Week for the company’s 25th anniversary.
Spade had not been associated with the brand in more than a decade. In 1999 she sold half of the company to Neiman Marcus Group and sold the rest of it seven years later to Liz Claiborne, Inc. The company is now owned by Tapestry, Inc. which changed its name from Coach, Inc. in October 2017 and owns several other luxury accessory and lifestyle brands including Coach and Stuart Weitzman. Coach left the promotional products industry in 2009.