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 Maise Pxru2969 Grove CourtKate Spade Red Ostrich Embossed Leather Large Tote Bag* Kate Spade Black Pebbled Leather Tote Shoulder Bag + Gift *Kate Spade Leather Almond Cobble Hill Finley Hobo Handbag MintKate Spade Via Limoni Lia Lemon Yellow Bejeweled Clutch Bag Rhinestone Kate Spade Grove Court Zip Crossbody PurseKate Spade Gray Jeanne Beacon Patent Leather Bow Satchel Cross Body Bag Kate Spade Cobble Hill Little Minka Crossbody Shoulder Blue Teal Purse Bag $378Kate Spade Quinn Villabella Leather Bow Bag Carryall Purse Stunning Pink Kate Spade CrossbodyKate Spade Classic Spade Stevie Baby Diaper Bag In StuccoKate Spade Cobble Hill Satchel *black*Authentic Leather Kate Spade Hobo BagKate Spade Stevie Diaper BagKate Spade Ginnie Gold Coast Shimmer Black Quilted Leather Crossbody Purse BagKate Spade HandbagKate Spade Rachelle Wkru1911 With Matching Wallet Kate Spade Eat Cake For Breakfast TerryKate Spade Signature Spade Leather Kaiya Royal Cobalt Satchel Bag Msrp: $398Kate Spade Stevie Shoreline Stripe Satchel (package Never Opened Or Used)Kate Spade Grove Court MaiseKate Spade Wellesley Rachelle Green Leather Satchel Tote Purse HandbagKate Spade Mini Minka Pxru4551Kate Spade Gold Coast Elizabeth In FuschiaKate Spade HandbagKate Spade Malea Tote Bag/shopper/zipper Top*pxru0502*emerald Green Leather/goldKate Spade Sedgewick Place Phoebe Small Shoulder Bag In Black Gold/leather Rare!Auth $478 Kate Spade Handbag Large Domed Maeda Wellesley Golden Yellow Leather Authentic Kate Spade Gold Coast Maryanne Quilted Black Leather BagKate Spade Stevie Bexley Bittersweet Leather Satchel Purse Bag Mint ConditionKate Spade Tote - Never Used!Kate Spade Handbag, Quinn Bow Bridge Straw, Pxru3377Kate Spade Brown Snakeskin Leather Satchel Shoulder BagKate Spade Quilted Leather Handbag Kate Spade Cedar Street Maze/ (pink Maise/leather (scarce Item)Kate Spade Red Striped Baby BagKate Spade Quinn Black Patent Handbag PurseKate Spade Gold Coast Leather Zippered Chrissy Wristlet Clutch - I Have 3! Kate Spade Melinda FlickerKate Spade Purse Black & White PrintKate Spade Little Minka HandbagKate Spade Wellesley Small Maeda Satchel Hand Bag Euc BnglpurpleKate Spade HandbagAuthentic Kate Spade 100% Leather Handbag Excellent Low$ Nr Kate Spade Carlisle Street Sylvie Patent Leather Handbag Tote Authentic Kate Spade Bow Red Hot Leather Chained Shoulder BagKate Spade Cobble Hill Natural Metallic Little Minka Shoulder BagKate Spade "small Coal" Tote BagKate Spade Orange And White Tote BagKate Spade Polka Dots Hand BagKate Spade Villabella Kate Spade Baxter Street Small Catalina Ringwald Pink Leather Bag Msrp $348Kate Spade PurseKate Spade Ny Straw Clutch Rare! Kate Spade Call To Action Tequila Tote Bag!Kate Spade Cobble Hill Little Minka Satchel (tangerine)Kate Spade Diaper BagKate Spade Handbag Excellent Condition Pink Kate Spade Roseland Laptop Computer Messenger Bag Floral Kate Spade Cobble Hill