Kate Spade New York

Kate Spade

Kate Spade New York is an American luxury fashion design house founded in January 1993 by Kate and Andy Spade. Jack Spade is the brand’s line for men. Kate Spade New York competes with Michael Kors. In 2017, the company was purchased by, and is now part of, Tapestry, Inc., formerly known as Coach.

Business history
Prior to company creation

Katherine Noel Brosnahan (later known as Kate Spade) was born on December 24, 1962, in Kansas City, Missouri. She grew up in Kansas City and went to an all-girls Catholic high school. Eventually she moved to Arizona, where she attended Arizona State University and graduated in 1985. It is there that she met her future husband, Andy Spade. Katherine majored in journalism, while Andy majored in architecture.

In 1986, after completing their education, the couple moved to New York City. It was in New York that Katherine worked as a style editor for Mademoiselle, but left in 1991 (with the title of senior editor/head of accessories) to start her own handbag line. To get inspiration, Kate browsed local flea markets and secondhand stores. She also researched the styles, fabrics, and potential production costs of making her own handbags. The team slowly worked their way up the social ladder until they were able to create a company that would be noticed by the public.

Early stages

Kate Spade New York was founded in 1993 by Katherine Noel Brosnahan and her husband/business partner Andy Spade. Kate Spade New York started after a suggestion from Andy when Katherine wasn’t sure about her next career move after logging six years at Mademoiselle.[7] Originally, the business started out with the Sam handbag and was only making colorful lively bags for consumers. Eventually, Andy withdrew $35,000 from his 401K account to fund the production of Kate’s handbags. Her debut line infused classic shapes, colors and fabrics into a now iconic[citation needed] square bag with a little black label sewn to the outside of the bag that said “Kate Spade New York.” Their main target market at this time was the upper middle class.

In 1996, Spade’s company opened its first shop in New York City’s SoHo. Kate Spade rose in eight months after a journalist at Cleveland Research Co. recommended buying the shares because of the brand’s growth potential. Everywhere people went in New York from about 1997 to 2000, it would have been impossible to avoid seeing women carrying that simple nylon bag. The business was one of the first of its time to go digital, by using iPads, cell phones, and computers, as a part of the daily routine when working at one of its stores.

The company started from nothing, and after 1998 it started to expand, with sales totaling $27 million. By 2006, revenue was reportedly near $99 million. In 1999, Neiman Marcus Group paid $34 million for a 56% stake of the company. In 2006, Neiman Marcus Group acquired the remaining 44% stake in Kate Spade for $59.4 M, valuing the company at $134 M.

Later stages

In 2004, Kate Spade operated only 13 stores in the United States, and did not ship out of the country (Cohen 198). The company initially sold handbags, but eventually extended to include stationery, personal organizers, address books, shoes, beauty products, perfume, raincoats, pajamas, and eyewear clothing. It now has a full women’s clothing line. The business’ clothing and handbag lines are featured in retail stores all across America. Products are easily and continuously shipped around the world. By 2004, Kate Spade & Co. was worth $70 million, not including the complementary company Jack Spade. Kate Spade has over 180 stores around the world, and is sold in more than 400 stores worldwide (Cohen 198). Kate and Andy went from taking “the nothing black bag” to a creative personalized purse, now they create merchandise from the simple tote to home decor and bedding.

In November 2006, apparel giant Liz Claiborne Inc. bought Kate Spade for about $124 million from Neiman Marcus Group. Andy Spade was initially in charge of company operations, but, in 2007 after the sale of the company, operational control was turned over to Liz Claiborne. Kate Spade expanded their retail stores to include Kate Spade New York Outlets. The brand has over 47 outlet locations across the United States. The outlets offer Kate Spade New York handbags, clothing, jewelry, and accessories at a discounted price. Kate Spade New York Products are also sold in major department stores including Nordstrom, Macy’s, and Dillard’s. Kate Spade New York handbags, clothing, jewelry, accessories, and home products can be found in these major department stores. Kate Spade Home products are also sold at Bed, Bath and Beyond. As of January 2017, Kate Spade New York also debuted an exclusive collection with Williams Sonoma, including dinnerware, glassware, and flatware.

Tapestry, Inc. bought Kate Spade & Company in July 2017 for $2.4 billion.

In June 2018, Kate Spade committed suicide in her Manhattan apartment. To respect the late founder, the company announced to donate $1 million for mental health awareness cause, starting with a $250,000 donation to Crisis Text Line.

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