I am more saddened than I ever thought I’d be at the death of fellow quirky creative, Kate Spade. For those of you who know me, I have been a fan of Kate and her style for years and years. Every time I would see her items online or in a store, I would covet all of them! They always seemed so fresh and exciting, unlike anything I had seen before. As much as I wanted to be practical and tell myself I needed another handbag like I needed a hole in my head, I could always justify a Kate Spade bag because I felt like it was a piece of art. And you can’t put a price on that!
Anyway, I thought I would use this post to talk about how much Kate meant to me, and why her passing means a light has gone out in the world of whimsy.
My first bag
I remember my first Kate Spade bag more than I remember lots of other firsts. I was on a business trip with a friend of mine, shopping in San Francisco. We wound up in a second hand store that had lots of luxe clothes and bags, and I found myself eyeing this orange plaid boxy little purse. I know, orange plaid, right!? But it was SO cute (and I’m so bummed I don’t have a picture)! It had a lovely salmon color fabric on the inside. It wasn’t just cute with a capital C, it was different. I showed it to my friend, who immediately noticed it was Kate Spade. “You NEED to buy that,” she said.
Of course I didn’t need to buy it, but that has never stopped me before! We spent a long time at the store (my friend was on a quest for the perfect pair of jeans). I waited until the end to make my purchase, justifying it with all sorts of great reasons. The primary one being – no one else is going to have a bag like this!
It was spring, and from the moment I bought the purse, I carried it with me everywhere. I got tons of compliments on it. And I was right, no one had anything like it! Overnight, I become a Kate Spade fan girl.
My second bag
If you’re obsessed with handbags like me, you can’t have just one. My second Kate Spade bag was a tote. I considered it an upgrade. I was getting serious. It was actually marketed as a diaper bag, but it was turquoise (my FAVE color!) and in her famous dot noel pattern.
It was stylish and functional, and I was in love! I kept that one for years! To keep my obsession in check, I started doing this thing where I would sell my current Kate Spade bag on ebay before I would let myself buy a new one. It was dangerous and all too easy for me to go down the Kate Spade rabbit hole. Over the years, I have bought and sold a fair share of Kate Spade handbags. Currently, I have a lilac tote that’s pretty awesome.
I’m not embarrassed to admit this: If I see someone with a Kate Spade bag, my opinion of them jumps instantly. I feel like they must be cool and fun, and I might want to get to know them! They have friend potential, and I know I’m not the only one who felt that way. Kate created a community of like-minded women. That’s why I feel comfortable referring to her as Kate, because I feel like she’s my friend. And that’s why her death hit me so hard. Because I feel like I lost a friend. I felt like I knew her, even though we had never met. I felt like so much more than a customer.
I didn’t know that much about Kate’s story, even though I’m a huge fan. But I found out that she’s a fellow Midwestern native, having grown up in Kansas City, Missouri. And that she herself described her bags as “L.L. Bean meets Prada.” She attributed her success to the early cutthroat world of New York City fashion, where you had to move forward or fail. And there were lots of failures. Kate and her husband Andy didn’t make a profit until they were three years in, even though their bags were being sold at Barney’s and Fred Segal. Their first profitable year was the same year she was recognized by the Council of Fashion Designers of America. Her success came steadily after that. Kate focused on functionality, quirky, colorful design, and alternative fabrics and materials. It ensured her uniqueness in a place where most handbags were leather and brown and well, rather boring.
The brand today
Over the years, Kate Spade moved beyond handbags into shoes, eyeglasses, jewelry, perfume, and stationery. She said that people tended to ignore design when the main purpose of an item is to be functional. Kate thought that was a mistake. She also became an author, writing about style and manners.
Kate Spade herself sold her brand years ago. Today, Kate Spade the company is still around and still has her whimsical feel. Personally, I have loved all the great home office finds, but that’s because I’m a sucker for pretty paper and pens. Plus, they’re more affordable than the handbags.
I created a Pinterest board for some of my Kate Spade favorites! Check it out!
Kate Spade as Inspiration
We all have these people in our life that we consider creative mentors. Kate Spade was one of my big ones! Now that she’s gone, I feel a little lost. She was so unique. Really irreplaceable. I’m trying to get past my sadness and celebrate her life, but I’m not there yet. Suicide is so devastating, and it just goes to show you that you never really know what other people are struggling with. So be kind, gem gals, and reach out in friendship to your fellow human beings. This is still a wonderful, beautiful world, and Kate made it exceptionally more so.