as everyone knows, i’m a kate spade enthusiast. in addition to many kate spade haul blog posts, i’ve been following the brand for over ten years now and even enjoyed working there part-time for a year. in fact, my obsession is so well known that most of my friends relate the brand to me specifically.
a little background on kate spade new york:
the brand was founded in 1993 by its namesake, kate spade herself. at the time she had not yet married her husband, andy spade, but they named the brand accordingly as they were partners in the brand. they elaborate on the starting of the brand in this amazing podcast. kate was not happy with the bags currently on the market, and decided to design one herself. what started as a small operation run straight out of her new york apartment became a giant lifestyle brand by 1998. in 2006, kate and andy decided they wanted to focus on their family life and sold the last of their shares in the company. the brand changed hands a few more times through the years, but kept the essence of the kate spade girl.
in 2017 the brand was purchased by tapestry, inc. i personally saw the changes in the company as i was employed there at the time. with the announcement of the purchase, the majority of the executive staff decided to leave, including the creative director, deborah lloyd, who had been keeping the spirit of the namesake alive since 2007. with this change they appointed a new director, nicola glass in 2018.
tldr; the brand was founded by kate spade originally but she stepped away in 2006 and the company was under the direction of deborah lloyd until it changed hands the most recent time in 2018.
the founder kate spade, unfortunately committed suicide in 2018, after battling depression and anxiety for many years. this news came as quite a shock to the world, and honestly hit a little too close to home for me. i’m proud to say the brand donated one million dollars to mental health awareness in honor of her memory.
now the reason i’ve begun this post is to discuss the major changes that tapestry and nicola glass are making to the brand. i feel very impassioned about these changes, and the only way i felt i could address my frustrations was to blog about it.
kate spade has been known for it’s signature clover green tags and tissue papers. the bright colors splashed with gold and witty phrases have been the forefront of the brand since the beginning. i’m disappointed by the washed out pink (sorry, “pink kiss”) that is now going to be the signature color. they’re not just changing the tags, but the boxes and the dust bags which have been always been a staple of the brand. the brand isn’t just transforming, it’s completely changing.
the signature spade has also been changed to evolve to a heart hybrid, and a texture for the brand. this screams coach and michael korrs, which is infamous for plastering giant c’s and mk’s all over all their products. i’ve always enjoyed the minimalist style of kate spade, never touting the brand name all over the bags and accessories. the bag designs have lost their fun and whimsical charm and now have a high society sophistication to them. although i can see why this would be appealing to make the brand seem more high-end, this makes it lose touch with the people who love it the most. the common catch phrase of the brand, “she is quick, curious, playful, and strong” emphasizes the quintessential kate spade girl. the new designs and patterns have a more stiff and pretentious tone to them and do not encapsulate the person that kate spade affectionally refers to as “our girl.”
while i have been overtly critical on the handbag designs, i will say that the clothing that nicola has presented has kept the same whimsical style that i’ve always loved. the patterns she chose for spring (barring the ridiculous overdone spade) is fun and mischievous. i love the bright florals and the cuts of the dresses. the clothing matches up with the great creativity that deborah always put forward. the accessories were more of a hit or miss for me, some quaint and lovely, while others gaudy and try-hard.
edit: kate spade just released their upcoming fall collection and my heart has completely broken. the fun fanciful kate spade girl is no longer.
my biggest qualm with this change is that they will no longer be pursuing novelty items the way they always have. the coin purses, which i have dedicatedly collected for years have been discontinued. the new items they have listed under “novelty” are no where near as fanciful or eccentric as they once were.
of course, i’m not adverse to change. although i respect nicola trying to branch out and make her mark on the brand, i believe there’s a level of respect you must have to the original style that has kept millions loyal to it for several years. in the end, kate spade is a handbag brand and thus the attitude the bags display set the tone for everything else. it’s almost as if it’s a complete re-branding of what tapestry thinks the fans want. however, would you have bought the brand at such a high price if the quirky thinking and style wasn’t working in the first place?
tldr; while my wallet will likely be sighing in relief from my lack of purchases, my heart will forever ache and yearn for the days that kate spade was unapologetically feminine and always touted the phrase “live colorfully.”