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    

Authentic Kate Spade Black Red & Tan Canvas Small Tote Bag Purse Leather HandlesKate Spade Ny Tan Beige Gold Coast Store Display Maryanne Quilted Leather BagKate Spade Maise BagKate Spade Sidney City Stripe Tote Bag Purse Worn One Month Excellent Condition Kate Spade Sawyer Street Maxi Tote In Hot Pink Color *rare* ~~ Sold Out Color ~~Kate Spade Large Brown Leather Purse Kate Spade Gold Coast Red Quilted Bag Preowned Excellent ConditionKate Spade Cobble Hill-ellen' Leather Cross Body Bag (authentic)Kate Spade PurseKate Spade Handbag In Pink UnusedKate Spade Wellesley Grainy Vinyl Crossbody Bag SmallKate Spade Cobble Hill Little Minka Leather Cross Body Handbag In MaraschinoKate Spade Elena Wellesley Leather Kelly Green ToteRare Kate Spade Saturday Black Leather Cinch Handbag Bucket Shoulder Bag PurseAuthentic Kate Spade Valentine West Soft Pebbled Leather Bucket Bag Coral $378Guc Kate Spade Cobble Hill Leslie Black Leather SatchelKate Spade Little Minka Pink Leather Satchel BagKate Spade HandbagKate Spade Black Authentic Classic Pink Victoria Shoulder Crossbody Bag Kate Spade Loden Newbury Lane Black Purse Hand BagKate Spade Chelsea Square Hayden Handbag And Matching Sunset Court Lacey Wallet.Euc Looks Never Used Kate Spade Tequila Is Not My Friend Large Canvas ToteKate Spade Get Out Of Town Bon Shopper Shoulder Bag Purse Worn OnceKate Spade HandbagBlack Leather Kate Spade PurseKate Spade CrossbodyKate Spade Carrigan Lily Avenue Scalloped Leather Tote Bag Pxru5606Authentic Kate Spade Wellesley Maeda Leather Yellow Shoulder Bag PurseKate Spade Crossbody PurseKate Spade Pebble Leather Beige/neon Yellow Crossbody/satchelKate Spade Green Leather Cross Body Messenger Bag Purse SatchelKate Spade Small Loden Newbury Lane Leather Satchel Crossbody HandbagRare Vintage Sample Kate Spade Vachetta Tote - Collectors Alert!Kate Spade HandbagKate Spade PurseKate Spade Handbag Brighton Park Sloan Satchel/shoulder Bag In BlackSmall Kate Spade Cross Body Purse Bag Pink Kate Spade Cross Body With Matching WalletKate Spade Golf ClutchKate Spade Leather HandbagKate Spade Ca57710 Purple Leather HandbagKate Spade Slate Grey BagKate Spade Saturday HandbagKate Spade Bag In Yellow 100% Authentic Kate Spade Cedar Street Maise Satchel Bag Light PinkKate Spade Required Reading Index OrganizerKate Spade Nekko Backpack Kate Spade 'splash - Out Francis' ToteKate Spade Sophie Bag In Holiday BlueKate Spade Cedar Street MaiseKate Spade 2 Park Avenue Beau Bag - PinkKate Spade Large Laurel Wesley Place - Black/porcelainKate Spade Wellesley Martine Handbag Purse In Balletslip Light PinkKate Spade Serena Noel Chocolate Brown Diaper Baby Bag Messenger Bag Crossbody!!Auth Kate Spade Black Beige Leather Sullivan Street Melita Shoulder Handbag White Kate Spade Leather Pattern Purse Handbag SilverBnwt Kate Spade Flamingo Applique Cali Clutch $268Kate Spade Charolette Small Sloan (limonium) Authentic PinkKate Spade Cedar Street MaiseKate Spade Gold Coast Maryanne Tote Handbag Black