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 Shore Road Lula Ostrich Egg Black Beige Chain Strap Bag Clutch SmallKate Spade Freemont Place Julian Crossbody Tan Light Brown PurseKate Spade HandbagKate Spade Black Quilted Leather Gold Coast Maryanne Shoulder Handbag Kate Spade Bag Blue Kaiya Satchel *used Twice* Gorgeous! Comes W/tags & Dustbag!Kate Spade CarmenKate Spade Cobble Hill Leather Large Leslie Satchel Shoulder Bag In BlackKate Spade Leather BagKate Spade Diaper BagKate Spade Maximillan Maxwell Owl ToteKate Spade Cobble Hill Little Curtis Leather Shoulder Bag In Plum- $278 MsrpKate Spade Black Alessa Wellesley SatchelKate Spade Belletown Ashlyn Natural/black Polka Dot PurseKate Spade Handbag Bow Valencia Road Medium Harmony Tote Wkru2459 Ostrich BeigeKate Spade Newbury Lane Sally Black Crossbody Purse Saffiano Leather BagKate Spade Cedar Street Maise Shoulder Bag (color: Clocktower)Kate Spade Astor Court Naomi Black Crossbody Purse Quilted Leather BagKate Spade Large Black Diaper BagKate Spade Far From The Tree Hot Pink Shoulder Bag, Clutch, StatementAuthentic Turquoise Kate Spade Satchel. NrAuthentic Kate Spade Jubilee Stripe Stevie Diaper Bag/ Handbag/ Tote Black CreamKate Spade Dictionary Brown Hamilton Heights Sloan Leather Purse Handbag EucKate Spade Gold Coast GeorginaKate Spade Post Street Little Nadine Handbag, Black/white LeatherKate Spade Kennedy Park Aleah Shoulder Bag Handbag Purse BlackBlack Leather Kate Spade Cross Body BagKate Spade Handbag, Purse, Bag, Hobo SetEuc Kate Spade Newbury Lane Tote Bag Gray / Pewter LeatherKate Spade Into The Wild Thomas, Pink & Orange Leopard, Crossbody & WristletKate Spade Lacey Mikas Pond Gold Zip Around Wallet/ Clutch #pwru2076Kate Spade Pink Small Crossbody PurseKate Spade Bow Valley Mika BagKate Spade Grove Court Small Sloan Dk Brown Leather Satchel Handbag **rtls $398!Kate Spade Leopard Print Patent Handbag 5" X 10"Kate Spade Cedar Street Perforated Small Harmony Tote In BlackKate Spade Diaper Bag: Kennedy Park Honey Baby Bag In Cherry (641)Kate Spade-*taupe"-"gabriella"-"berkshire Road" Cross Body-shoulder HandbagAuthentic Kate Spade Wellesley Quinn Leather Bag Purse Black Women MediumKate Spade Camellia Street Handbag Plus Wallet ( Mint )Kate Spade Scout Crossbody HandbagKate Spade Purse NudeKate Spade Designer Five Points Kinsey Leather Satchel Handbag In FlameKate Spade Ny Black White Woven Patent Leather Hobo Handbag Purse~dust BagKate Spade Berkshire Road Adela Leather Poppy Red PurseKate Spade Pink Crossbody/handbagKate Spade Cedar Street Handbag Polka DotKate Spade Call To Action Eat Cake For Breakfast Canvas Tote Bag Limited EditionKate Spade Grove Court Lainey Spacious Handbag -- EucGorgeous Kate Spade Handbag, Black & White Genuine LeatherKate Spade PurseKate Spade HandbagKate Spade HandbagKate Spade Newbury Lane Neda Brown Zip Wallet Billfold Wlru 1498Kate Spade- Red PurseKate Spade Cobble Hill LeslieAuthentic Kate Spade Patent Leather Black/off White Polka Dot Shoulder BagKate Spade Black & White Ny Montrose Elena Patent Leather Stripe Handbag PurseKate Spade Black And White/ Cream PurseKate Spade Knightsbridge Small Scout Messenger & Cross Body Bag BrownKate Spade Classic Spade Adaira Baby Bag, Black/cream Pink Bag, Retail $398