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 Beige & Yellow Pebbled Leather Convertible Shoulder Bag Kate Spade Ny Black Leather- Charlotte Street Sloan Satchel - Excellent Kate Spade Nylon Stripe Stevie Baby BagLot Of Coach Habdbags Kate Spade Planner Croc Clutch Sbd WalletKate Spade Tote Bag - Dark Sea Green Patent Leather - Large Croc Print - Vgc -Kate Spade Black Leather Satchel **excellent** $458$89.99 Kate Spade Nylon Flatiron-cammy Crossbody Messenger Shoulder BagAuthentic Kate Spade Cedar Street Maise Handbag Clock Tower Kate Spade Mint Leather Ladies Handbag And Matching WalletKate Spade 2 Park Avenue Beau Satchel **excellent**Kate Spade Handbag Black LeatherKate Spade Villabella Quinn Pink Leather Bow Purse Bag Tote Msrp $398Kate Spade Diaper BagKate Spade ToteKate Spade Little Minka Hand Bag Used Once 378.00Kate Spade Lights, Camera, Action. A Great Looking Bag. Silver White. BlackKate Spade Camellia Street Jeralyn Tote Handbag Purse Purple Baja Rose Stunning Kate Spade "bourbon Street Jennie" Leather Handbag**totally Sold Out**!Kate Spade Cobble Hill Pink Red Leather Kate Spade Handbag Purse Kate Spade Elena Astor Court $458 Quilted All Leather Purse *excellent**used* Bulk Rehab Resale Wholesale Purse Lot Coach Kate Spade Dooney Bourke Jj-Kate Spade Leather BagKate Spade Flynn Wellesley Crossbody Bag Purse Black Embossed LeatherKate Spade Quinn Prestwick Noel (citronella) Handbag. Wkru1093Kate Spade Belltown Ashlyn Polka Dot Purse- Never UsedN Lexury 100% Authentic Gorgeous Kate Spade Small Bag Beige Maryanne Gold Coast*used* Bulk Rehab Resale Wholesale Purse Lot Michael Kors Coach Kate Spade #l2Kate Spade CrossbodyAuth Kate Spade Ny 'gold Coast Elizabeth' Quilted Cashew Leather Tote €Euc Kate Spade Black Leather Shoulder Bag With Chain StrapKate Spade Large 'wellesley Quinn' Top Handle Handbag Retails $325Kate Spade Brighton Park Sloan Bag In Dusty BlueKate Spade Large Hudson Street Haircalf Leopard Print Clutch, Animal PrintKate Spade Carmen Black Nylon Shoulder Cross Body Bag Wkru1572 W/ Stacy WalletKate Spade Leather BagKate Spade Stevie Diaper Baby BagKate Spade Fuschia Pink Gold Coast Mary Ann $478 Retail - Excellent! W/ Dust BagKate Spade*used* Bulk Rehab Resale Wholesale Purse Lot Marc Jacobs Juicy Kate Spade H-nKate Spade Ostrich Yellow Leather Handbag Authentic Kate Spade Grey Pebbled Leather Shoulder Bag Handbag W/ Convertible StrapKate Spade Murphy Large Shoulder Black Pebbled Leather Bag Purse $448Kate Spade Kaleigh Bondi Road SatchelKate Spade Leather Handbag Msrp $278 Kate Spade Handbag Magnolia Park Laurel$328 Kate Spade Black Leather Crossbody Bag Juliana Hampton RoadKate Spade Stevie Handbag - Navy And GrayKate Spade Gold Coast Maryanne Kate Spade Purse And Diaper BagKate Spade Palm Spring Or Bust Coal Tote Kate Spade Tote Bag Postmark Renee Orig Retail $198Kate Spade Cedar Street Medium Harmony Leather Tote Bag In GrayKate Spade Newbury Lane Briar Black Leather Tote$298 Kate Spade Cedar Street Elissa Dark Geranium Purse HandbagKate Spade Lola Avenue Lia PurseKate Spade Southport Avenue Linda Tote Bag Msrp $448Kate Spade Cobble Hill Orange BagKate Spade Marguerite Lilac Road Handbag Color Sand/whiteKate Spade Black White Florence Broadhurst Floral Essex Scout Shoulder Bag