People Everywhere Are Celebrating Kate Spade's Accomplishments And Enduring Legacy

"My first 'good' purse was a black nylon Kate Spade messenger bag. I begged my mom for it. I felt so special and fancy wearing it."

Kate Spade was an American fashion designer who helped change the industry by bringing her one-of-a-kind whimsical charm to fashion. Her colorful, playful aesthetic is well known and there are many who can share stories of special moments in their lives that are connected to her designs.

Therefore, it is with great sadness to report her passing today at the age of 55 in what is being called an apparent suicide.  She is survived by her husband Andy, and her 13-year-old daughter Frances. The details surrounding her passing are still emerging, but the hole in the fashion industry is already being felt. 

Many are taking to social media to express their condolences to Spade's friends and family, to share the stories about how the brand has influenced them, and to discuss how they will remember the visionary creator.

As many pay tribute to her on social media, we take a look back at her many accomplishments and the brand's celebration of "living colorfully."

1. Spade started her label back in 1993.

After working as an Accessories Editor at Mademoiselle, Spade changed directions and "set out to design the perfect handbag" with the encouragement and help of then-boyfriend (and eventual husband) Andy Spade. The debut Kate Spade New York collection featured six styles with what would become the brand's signature colorful palette and sophisticated shapes.

2. In 1996, the first Kate Spade shop opened in New York City.

The brand went from strength to strength with stores including Charivari, Barneys, Fred Segal, Saks Fifth Avenue, Bloomingdale's, and Nordstrom placing orders, according to Racked. This allowed Kate Spade to open its own bricks-and-mortar shop.

3. In 1996, Spade received the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) "International" award.

Kate Spade would also win the same award again in 1998.

4. Also in 1996, Spade launched Jack Spade.

As the business grew, Spade expanded the women's accessories range to include footwear, journals, and other accessories. Spade, along with her husband Andy, also launched a menswear accessories line, Jack Spade.

5. In 1998, Kate Spade opened its first store in Japan.

WWD reports that the fashion brand had sales around $27 million in 1998 and the continued success led to a store being opened in Japan.

6. In 1999, the Neiman Marcus Group paid $33.6 million to acquire a 56 percent stake in the company.

Kate Spade, along with husband Andy, continued to run the brand's operations. WWD reported that this led to further expansion into Asia along with a Jack Spade store in New York.

7. In 2002, Kate Spade signed licensing deals.

Per Racked, Kate Spade first partnered with Estée Lauder on fragrances in 2002. They inked an additional deal with Lenox in 2004 to expand into house goods. With the licensing ranges and continually expanding merchandise, Kate Spade would become known as a lifestyle brand.

8. In 2004, a Kate Spade e-commerce shop launched.

Shortly after celebrating its 10-year anniversary and a reported $70 million in sales, Kate Spade launched an e-commerce shop. It was especially significant as it would be many years before the majority of clothing brands made their merchandise available online. 

9. In 2007, Spade sold the company to Liz Claiborne Inc.

The Spades reportedly sold the business to Liz Claiborne Inc. (now Kate Spade & Company) for $125 million. They left the company shortly after. Even after the founder left, the brand continued to flourish with accessories, jewelry, house goods, clothes, and more all designed in the free spirited, preppy aesthetic its founder helped champion.

Spade later said that she took time off following the sale so she could raise her daughter Frances Beatrix Spade.

10. In 2016, Spade launched a new fashion brand called Frances Valentine.

After a 10-year hiatus Spade, along with her husband and friends-designers Elyce Arons and Paola Venturi, launched Frances Valentine, a range of shoes and accessories. The fashion designer even changed her last name to Valentine, which is a family name. As previously mentioned, her daughter's name is Frances.

People are sharing their memories of their first handbag, many saying how special her designs made them feel.

Cover image via  BestStockFoto I Shutterstock

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