Kate Spade walked away from her famous accessories company in 2007, but she will always be associated with the brand that still bears her name. The designer, who died at age 55 on June 5, launched the now iconic brand in 1993 with her college sweetheart, Andy Spade. It wasn’t long before Kate Spade New York bags became a symbol of adulthood for young working women everywhere.
According to ABC News Australia, Kate wanted to create glamorous and eye-catching bags and accessories, but she also wanted them to be relatively affordable for young buyers. For many young working women, a Kate Spade bag was considered their first “luxury” purchase. Several women spoke to ABC about how a Kate Spade bag helped marked their transition into adulthood, with some calling a Kate Spade their first “grown-up handbag.” Others said they knew the pricey purchase was something they would care for and have forever.
Famous women, like former first daughter Chelsea Clinton, recounted tales of how they were given a Kate Spade piece to mark a special occasion. Clinton wrote on Twitter that her grandmother gave her her first Kate Spade bag when she was in college—and she still has it.
In the hours following Kate Sade’s death of an apparent suicide, many successful women, including Savannah Guthrie, Ivanka Trump, Mindy Kaling, Bette Midler, and Kathy Griffin, have posted photos of themselves wearing Kate Spade or reminiscing about the first Kate Spade bag they owned. Actress Alyssa Milano was actually wearing Kate Spade clothing items during a live interview on MSNBC when news of the designer’s death broke.
Kate Spade’s brand, which would spawn into a complete lifestyle brand that included patterned china, bedding, stationery, and cell phone cases, appealed to women of all ages, and even their daughters.
Women of all ages are paying tribute to Kate at Kate Spade New York stores across the country, as they mourn the loss of the style icon together. In New York City, the flagship Kate Spade New York store on Madison Avenue was roped off with an area for notes and flowers from mourners, according to Glamour.
After a decade-long hiatus to raise her daughter, Kate Spade’s final venture was the spinoff brand Frances Valentine, named after her only child. But while her daughter is now only 13, she always knew her mom’s brand was a special rite of passage for young women. Kate Spade once told People the following.
“I took my daughter into the Kate Spade store to buy her a skirt. The lady behind the counter said ‘Are you on our mailing list?’ And I said ‘no’ and my daughter was looking at me like, ‘C’mon, just tell her.’ I just loved, ‘Are you on our mailing list? It’s like, ‘No, I created your mailing list!'”
If you or someone you know is in crisis, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting TALK to 741741. For readers outside the U.S., visit Suicide.org or Befrienders Worldwide for international resources you can use to find help.