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 Beautiful Black Tufted HandbagKate Spade Cobble Hill Little Minka - Kelly Green Mint ConditionKate Spade Black Quilted Leather Gold Coast Maryanne Shoulder Handbag Kate Spade Black Leather Medium PurseKate Spade Madison Avenue 2 Park Ave Beau Large Croc Embossed Ostrich Egg CreamKate Spade Five Points Camille Leather Large Satchel Orange CrossbodyBraided Leather Handle Stevie Kate Spade HandbagAuthentic Kate Spade Black Leather Purse HandbagKate Spade Stevie Nylon Leopard Print Baby Bag Diaper Bag With Changing PadKate Spade Wellesley Alessa Satchel Bag Wkru1743 Msrp $398 Garnet Reds LeatherAuthentic Kate Spade Stunning Gray Leather Purse/handbagKate Spade Stevie Classic Diaper BagKate Spade Stevie Diaper BagKate Spade Saturday: Weekender BagKate Spade Shoulder Bag - Rachelle Wellesley Pat Striped B&w - 12.5 X 9 X 5Women's Handbags Kate Spade Maira Kalman Eloise Xl Dog Walker Tote/black-tt135Kate Spade Amy Camellia St Crossbody Wallet Pouch Purse Bag Sold Out! Last One!Kate Spade HandbagKate Spade Stevie Baby Diaper BagKate Spade Cobble Hill Pink Kate Spade Gorgeous And Chic Black Leather Quilted Crossbody Bag W/gold ChainGorgeous Dark Gray Leather Kate Spade HandbagKate Spade Stevie Diaper BagAuthentic Kate Spade Wellesley Quinn Leather Purse/tote Vine Green Color Kate Spade Charm City Ostrich (muave)Kate Spade SatchelKate Spade Tote Handbag Tan Fabric / Black Polkadot Ipreowned (gold Buttons)Kate Spade Karen Nylon Stripe Black Cream Shoulder BagKate Spade Handbag Ivory With BowKate Spade Maira Kalman Eloise Dog Bag Handbag PurseKate Spade Mayfair Drive Perforated Tullie Handbag In NavyKate Spade Cobble Hill Clarke Authentic Kate Spade Shoulder BagAuthentic Kate Spade Classic Spade Stevie Shoulder Bag EucKate Spade Harmony Black & Cream Boutique Stripe Large Tote~$328~sold OutKate Spade Pippa Dusty Mint Handbag Made Of Thick, Soft, Smooth Cowhide Kate Spade Cobble Hill Grace Blue Pebbled Leather Little MinkaKate Spade 2 Park Avenue Cheri Giverny Tiffany Blue Leather Bag Purse No ReserveKate Spade Small Lady Style Black HandbagKate Spade Ny Kennedy Park Tiny Sophie Pueblo Tiles BnwtKate Spade Handbag Purse Leather Hobo Style Leaf Blue Green WhiteAuthentic Kate Spade Berkshire Leather Shoulder Bag$398 Kate Spade Black *with Receipt** Stevie Baby Diaper Bag PurseMichael Kors Metallic Gold Purse & Kate Spade Gold CardholderKate Spade Stevie Kent Brown Leather Satchel Handbag Purse P091Lot Kate Spade Mara Perforated Leather Wallet And HandbagKate Spade Polka Dot HandbagKate Spade Vita Limoni Large Luisa Bag In Navy BlueKate Spade Gold Coast Quilted Ivory Leather BagKate Spade Handbag Waverly Street Drew Kate Spade Medium Serena Gold Coast Cashew Quilted Shoulder Bag ***no Reserve Kate Spade Leather Rich Brown And White "blakely" Tote BagKate Spade Handbag And Matching Wallet!Kate Spade Maryanne Gold CoastKate Spade Peacock Tote Bag. Never Used With Tote CoverKate Spade Stevie Diaper Bag- Black And White Nylon Polka DotKate Spade Marivaux Maryanne Black Quilted Nylon Bag Purse Shoulder Tote!Kate Spade Bag With SpotsKate Spade Brown ToteKate Spade Handbag