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 Southport Avenue Alessa Purple Leather Handbag Kate Spade Ny "small Leslie" Gray Leather Foldover Satchel Crossbody Bag $378Kate Spade Sawyer Street Maxi In Robins Egg Blue, Bnwt. Guaranteed AuthenticKate Spade Black Cobble Hill Leslie Leather Handbag Satchel Crossbody Kate Spade Southport Avenue Carmen Black Leather Retail $428Kate Spade Ivy Drive Handbag Tote & Wallet, Leather, Authentic Kate Spade Black Leather Handbag Purse With BowKate Spade HandbagKate Spade Crossbody BagAuthentic Kate Spade Black Leather Handbag/purseKate Spade Highland Place Mini Maria In Leather Handbag - MagnoliaKate Spade Little Minka Shoulder BagKate Spade Cedar Street Small Tote Fushia PinkKate Spade Leather ToteKate Spade Stevie Grant Park Black Leather Shoulder BagKate Spade Montigo Avenue Toucan Striped Bon Shopper Canvas Tote Bag And PouchKate Spade Fuschia Purple Purse CrossbodyKate Spade Crossbody Kate Spade Wallet/purse Neda Wellesley Leather Zip AroundKate Spade Black Leather Shoulder Handbag 9" High, 15" Long, 5" Wide Great ShapeKate Spade Splash Out Beware Of Sharks HandbagKate Spade Wellesley Limocello Leather Satchel BagKate Spade Large Alexander Catalina Green Ostrich Leather Crossbody Bag $528Kate Spade ToteKate Spade HandbagWomans Authentic Euc.large Blue Leather Kate Spade Handbag!!!!!!!Kate Spade Black Nylon & Leather Strap Shoulder BagKate Spade Snow Leopard Large Laptop BagKate Spade PurseKate Spade Handbag (authentic)Kate Spade Quinn Wellesley Gorgeous Emerald Hand Bag Kate Spade Wellesley Quinn HandbagKate Spade Red Birds Of Paradise Straw Large Tote Bag PurseKate Spade Black Striped Shopper Tote Canvas Patent LeatherKate Spade Tote Kate Spade Cobble Hill LeslieKate Spade Small Maryanne Handbag Kate Spade Stevie Classic Noel Brown Tote Purse Red LiningQuinn Kate Spade Purse And WalletKate Spade Eat Cake For Breakfast ToteKate Spade Elena Black Villabella Avenue Tote With Bag And BookletKate Spade Stevie HandbagKate Spade Pink Large Wellesley HandbagKate Spade Purse Authentic Kate Spade Crossbody Orange BagKate Spade Southport Small Jenny Satchel HandbagKate Spade Poppy Red Leather Cross Over Bag With Garment BagKate Spade Black/ivory ToteKate Spade Large Tate Handbag Spade Jacquard Chocolate BrownKate Spade Leather Handbag Purse Tote BlackBlack Genuine Leather Kate Spade PurseKate Spade Paisley Wicker Handbag Summer 2001 With Tortoise Shell HandlesKate Spade Oak Island Stripe Magazine Tote Msrp $268Kate Spade CrossbodyKate Spade Cedar Street Medium Harmony Tote BagKate Spade Black Nylon Tote BagKate Spade Seahorse Coin PurseKate Spade -grove Court- Lainey Color Block GrayKate Spade Leather HandbagKate Spade Saturday-the British Tan Mini A Satchel Leather Bag Crossbody.