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 Black Quilted Shoulder BagKate Spade 3587 Womens Cedar Street Maise Black Shoulder Handbag Medium BhfoKate Spade Gray Leather Shoulder Bag Shoulder BagKate Spade Leather Crossbody Bag Avva Arbor HillKate Spade 8774 Womens Lynne Ivory Leather Tote Handbag Purse Medium BhfoKate Spade Black Quilted HandbagL@@k Kate Spade $398 Grand Street Satchel Leather Color Block Handbag PurseKate Spade Black Leather Purse, Perfect ConditionKate Spade Lilly Oliver Street Crossbody Bag Purse Mint Blue Orchard PenelopeKate Spade Cedar Street Medium Harmony, Mulled WineKate Spade Small Rachelle Astor Court Satchel Bag Black Quilted Leather UsedKate Spade Wellesley Small Quinn Leather Black Tote Bag Crossbody Kate Spade Toni Street Cat Cross Body Purse Kate Spade Brantley Parliament Square Flat Black Leather Tote Wkru3113 BagKate Spade Handbag Satchel And Wallet$228 *as Is* Kate Spade Cedar Street Mandy Black Saffiano Leather CrossbodyAuthentic Kate Spade Cedar Street Maise Leather SatchelKate Spade PurseKate Spade HandbagAuthentic Black Kate Spade Wellesley BagKate Spade Cedar Street Maise, Crisp Linen Kate Spade Cedar Street Seahorses Maise Adventure Blue Convertible CrossbodyKate Spade Cobble Hill Pebbled Leather Crossbody/satchel Retails At $398Kate Spade Looloo Perri Lane Bubbles Turquoise Blue Handbag Purse CrossbodyKate Spade Newbury Lane Plaid Miles Large Satchel Shoulder Bag Red/blackKate Spade Cedar Makes Leather Top-handle Satchel (low Reserved)Kate Spade Quinn Black Leather Villabella Handbag TotegucKate Spade HandbagKate Spade Women's Black Grand Street Colorblock Gabriel And Wallet.Kate Spade Cedar St Maise Handbag Red Kate Spade Purse And WalletKate Spade Handbag Used With DefectKate Spade Crossbody Plus Free Gift♡♡♡♡Kate Spade Villanova PurseKate Spade Crossbody Satchel HandbagKate Spade Cream Leather Bow Purse Bag Authentic Kate Spade Wellesley Texture Quinn Tote.excellent Condition.no ReserveKate Spade Handbag, PinkKate Spade Pink HandbagKate Spade Black Polka Dot Diaper BagKate Spade Purse, Slightly UsedKate Spade HandbagKate Spade Small Hayden Cedar Street Black/cement $358Kate Spade HandbagKate Spade Red HandbagKate Spade Authentic Diaper Bag Excellent ConditionKate Spade Leather Arbour Hill Small Elodie Tote Black Kate Spade Merlot Orchard Street Small Natalya Handbag Great ConditionKate Spade Small Cedar Street Tote And WalletKate Spade White Satchel HandbagKate Spade 'quinn' Beantown Bag Black Wool Polkadot Interior ****authentic_designer_kate_spade_handbag_purse_cedar_street_maise_blue_leather!Kate Spade Black & Cream Purse W/walletKate Spade Ny Cameron Street Byrdie PurseKate Spade Claverly Maryanne Red Patent Leather Bow Handbag Tote Euc *pristine*Kate Spade Newbury Lane Briar Tote - Red Saffiano LeatherKate Spade Bucket Purse Kate Spade Elsie Street Black Exotic Leather Meriwether Satchel Bag HandbagAuthentic Kate Spade Haven Lane Silver Tote/shopperKate Spade Black Pebble Leather Mini Crossbody Purse