Kate Spade Found Dead at 55
by Lily Lin
Kate Spade is a household name, a brand that perches on the arms of many women across the world. Unfortunately, the woman behind the brand died by apparent suicide on June 5th, 2018 in her Manhattan apartment. She was found with a note addressed to her daughter, Frances Beatrix Spade.
Spade was born as Katherine Noel Brosnahan in Kansas City, Missouri to an Irish family. She attended University of Kansas before transferring to Arizona State University, which her future husband, Andy Spade, also attended. The two of them worked together as salespersons in Carter’s Men’s Clothing in Phoenix. In 1986, she began formally working in the accessories industry when she worked for the magazine Mademoiselle in Manhattan, where she held the title of senior fashion editor/head of accessories. She later left the publication in 1991 to create her own line.
With her husband, Spade created Kate Spade New York in 1993. In the beginning, the brand mainly targeted the upper middle class and featured her signature black sewn label on the handbags. Throughout the years, Spade expanded her empire to also include stationery, shoes, beauty products, perfume, clothing, and even eyewear. Andy Spade managed the male counterpart, Jack Spade, which focused on clothing and accessories for men.
The brand spread beyond the United States and was sold in over 400 stores worldwide. Eventually, the brand was sold to Tapestry Inc., which also owns Coach New York and Stuart Weitzman.
Even though Kate Spade no longer had a stake in the company, since she sold it to Neiman Marcus years ago and it has since changed hands many times, her legacy and entrepreneurial spirit still live on. When people pass by a store or look at her merchandise, people will remember the woman who fulfilled the American dream and created a fashion empire.