A journalism-school graduate born in Kansas City, Missouri, Katherine Brosnahan started her career in the accessories department at New York City-based “Mademoiselle” magazine in 1986. As she worked her way up to Fashion Editor/Head of Accessories, she noticed a gap in the handbag market. She wasn’t seeing enough practical, classically styled purses in surprising or fun colors and materials.

Brosnahan left journalism, and with her fiancé, Andy Spade, a superstar in the marketing world, she launched her own handbag brand, Kate Spade, in 1993, with a nylon tote bag. Andy and Kate married a year later, and the couple ran the company together for 17 years before they sold it.

Describing her line as “L.L. Bean meets Prada,” Kate Spade found great success with her minimalist, preppy bags in basic fabrics like nylon, silk, or tweed in neutrals and vibrant colors like grass green and bright orange. In 1996, Kate Spade was honored with the Perry Ellis Award for New Fashion Talent in accessories, which made her a household name.

Unlike haute-couture designer It Bags, which sell for thousands, Kate Spade purses sell for hundreds. Instead of overwhelming the wearer with the “statement” or personality of the bag, a Kate Spade is meant to go with the carrier’s personality, whether she’s a “renegade debutante, carpooling mother, or corporate executive."

Spade found much of her inspiration from vintage handbags. To keep her prices down, Spade focused on functionality and alternative materials to leather, including melton wool, Liberty prints, Harris tweed, oilskin, linen, and nylon. As her products spread to stores across the nation, she expanded her line to include snap-top satin evening bags with chain handles, linen and nylon shoulder bags, faux-suede shoppers, backpacks, and canvas tote bags.

Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

Bag Lady University

Bag Lady University

Bag Lady University is the place to learn about handbag makers from Adrian's, which made Bakelite bags, to Whiting … [read review or visit site]

Other Great Reference Sites

Most watched eBay auctions    

Kate Spade Hot Pink Leather Medium Sized Bag CrossbodyKate Spade Black Leather Cobble Hill Little Murphy Handbag PurseKate Spade Lilac Scalloped Crossbody Purse Kate Spade Wellesley Small Rachelle In French NavyAuthentic Kate Spade Ivory & Black Leather Crossbody Handbag SatchelKate Spade Cedar Street Maise Turquoise Blue Handbag Tote CrossbodyKate Spade PurseKate Spade Black Essex Medium Scout Cross Body Flap Bag Messenger BagKate Spade Saturday Leather Cross-body And Satchel BagKate Spade Southport Avenue Bag Black Carried Twice! Awesome!!!Kate Spade Nude Crossbody Envelope PurseKate Spade Mercer Isle Small Sloan Handbag With Matching Lacey Wallet In BlackKate Spade Tassel Leather Business Bag Women Shoulder Handbag Purse BlackKate Spade Newbury Lane Sally Tiffany Blue Leather Crossbody Bag DustbagKate Spade HandbagKate Spade Extra Large ToteLarge Kate Spade Cooper Grey Street Bucket Drawstring Bag Clocktower Msrp375Kate Spade Cobble Hill Taupe PurseKate Spade Tan And Black Villabella Bow HandbagKate Spade Diaper Bag, Never Used!Kate Spade Leather Bowler Bag Medium Tan/black Msrp $298 No Reserve Kate Spade Cross Body Bag Black PatentWholesale Bag Lot Louis Vuitton,coach,kate Spade, Bcbg,betsey, Vera Wang Etc..Kate Spade Black Leather Handbag Purse With BowKate Spade Little Minka Shoulder BagKate Spade Stevie Handbag Black And Cream Polka DotKate Spade Grant Street Grainy Vinyl Jules Giverny Floral ToteKate Spade Wellesley Martine Purse And WalletKate Spade Wellesley Stripe Patent Leather AlessaKate Spade Catherine Street Joanie EmeraldKate Spade Satchel Purse Hand Bag LeatherKate Spade Leather ToteEuc, Kate Spade Leather Ivy Drive Little Len Tote Bag Blue Navy Carryall HandbagKate Spade Large ToteKate Spade Wellesley Durham Leather Tote + Neda Wallet Hot Rose PinkAuthentic Kate Spade Porcelain Southport Avenue Cora Shoulder Crossbody BagAuthentic Kate Spade Classic Noel Diaper Bag With Green Interior **free Ship**Kate Spade Gold Coast Lilou Quilted Black Leather Shoulder Bag ToteKate Spade Purple ToteKate Spade HandbagKate Spade Cedar Street Small Tote Fushia PinkKate Spade Classic Spade Victoria Crossbody BagKate Spade Saturday Silver Open Top Bucket Tote BagKate Spade Green Purse Kate Spade Holden Street OliveraAuthentic Kate Spade Purse Kate Spade Ny Cobble Hill Little Curtis Leather Convertible Bag Blush Euc $329Kate Spade LotKate Spade French Navy Lemon ToteKate Spade Wallet/purse Neda Wellesley Leather Zip AroundKate Spade Flatiron Norah Black/white Stripe Shoulder/crossbody Bag-free Ship!Kate Spade Tote- Black Leather Pink Wink Kate SpadeKate Spade Cobble Hill Leslie Purse Satchel In Fuschia PinkKate Spade Knightsbridge Shoulder Tote– Gray/taupe Croc Embossed Patent LeatherAuthentic Kate Spade HandbagKate Spade Sawyer Street Maxi Leather Shoulder Bag- French NavyKate Spade Lola Avenue LiaKate Spade Brown Leather SatchelKate Spade Red Birds Of Paradise Straw Large Tote Bag Purse