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 PurseKate Spade Stevie Diaper Bag StripedKate Spade Black & White Canvas & Patent Leather Diaper BagKate Spade Handbag, Purse - Cafe Leather- Berkshire Road, Stevie Msrp $398Kate Spade Leroy Street Linsley Black Pebbled Leather Tote BagKate Spade Gold Coast Georgina Quilted Satchel In BlackKate Spade Wellesley Neda Satchel Handbag & Wallet Set BalletslipAuth $398 Kate Spade Wellesley Leather Quinn Handbag Bag Firefly Yellow JuicyKate Spade Wellesly Black And WhiteKate Spade HandbagAuthentic Kate Spade Little Minka BagKate Spade Cadene Newbury Lane In Neon Citron Yellow - Wkru2101 - ElctrcctrnKate Spade Leather Leo Houston Street Colorblock In Cream Wkru 2451Kate Spade Southport Avenue LilacAuth Kate Spade Museum Mile City Duffle In Black Leather/pink Accents!!Kate Spade Ruby Street Little Kennedy B&w Striped Handbag! Sold Out!Kate Spade Jitney Tote Purse Nautical StripesKate Spade Wellesley Quinn Fresh Air Blue Genuine Leather Handbag Wkru1428Kate Spade Straw Wicker Handbag PurseKate Spade Bow Terrace Small Fulton Ostreggblk (165) Pxru4403 Damaged/returnKate Spade Grey & White Canvas Logo & Beige Leather Shopper Tote BagKate Spade Call To Action Eat Cake For Breakfast Tote Bag/lg Purse Orange CanvasKate Spade Gold Coast MaryanneKate Spade Stevie Diaper BagKate Spade Cobble Hill Finley HandbagKate Spade Saturday The Weekender Bag Hazycheck 996 4iru0083 18"x12"Kate Spade Maximillian Owl Handbag ~limited Edition!~Kate Spade Canteen Handbag From The Hamiliton Heights Collection In Cipria PinkKate Spade Large York Avenue "small City Duffle" Riopink Hot Pink Leather PurseKate Spade Wkru 2485Bnwt Kate Spade Rare Cinema Popcorn Bon Shopper Daytripper Canvas Tote Bag PurseKate Spade Wellesley Rachelle Bag SunshineKate Spade Mercer Isle SloanKate SpadeKate Spade Black Bucket Wicker Straw Handbag Kate Spade Wellesley Quinn Tote Bag Leather Purse Pink Pre-ownedKate Spade Leather Grove Court Large Maise Neon Lime Green HandbagKate Spade PurseKate Spade Bag OnlyKate Spade Large Serena Polka Dot Red, Black And White Diaper BagKate Spade Gold Coast GeorginaKate Spade Leather Grey PurseKate Spade HandbagAuthentic Kate Spade Wellesley Alessa In Black And Porcelain!Kate Spade Handbag $398 Kate Spade Alessa Southport Avenue Zinnia Pink Satchel Crossbody HandbagAuthentic Kate Spade Wellesley Quinn Black Leather HandbagKate Spade Purse/tote Knightsbridge Lilia (color, Chesnut - Red)Kate Spade Black And White Tweed Handbag With Black Button Detailing Kate Spade Cobble Hill- Mini Minka Leather Satchel Black Kate Spade Purse / CrossbodyAuth Kate Spade Hot Pink Patent Leather Gold Tone Chain Zipper Shoulder Handbag Kate Spade Brown Woven Tote With White Leather Trim And Gold Accents EucAuthentic Kate Spade Blue Leather Tote Bag HandbagKate Spade Beantown Quinn Black Wool Felt Handbag As Seen On PinterestKate Spade Orange Patent Leather Chain Tote Bag Purse Nice!Kate Spade Santa Rosalia Scout - Only Used Twice! Originally $348!Kate Spade Cobble Hill Travel LeslieKate Spade Polka Dot Patent Satchel Purse EucAuthentic Kate Spade Black Patent Leather Gold Chain Strap Shoulder Tote Bag