Kate Spade: Brand, Business and Legacy

1962 - 2018

By Corvaya Jeffries

Published June 5, 2018

Fashion designer Kate Spade was found dead Tuesday. Authorities say she died by suicide. She was 55.

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Her suicide is the most recent in a tragic and disturbing recurrence of high-profile fashion designers who have hanged themselves. Alexander McQueen in 2010 and L'Wren Scott in 2014 (pictured above).

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Spade began building her iconic fashion empire in the '90s. It was after a conversation with her husband over dinner that she decided to start Kate Spade New York with a collection of 6 handbags. Three years later, she opened her first shop in NYC.

From a small purse business to a fashion empire that sold clothing, shoes, jewelry and home goods, Kate Spade competes with elite brands and companies.

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Today, Kate Spade New York has more than 300 retail shops and outlet stores in the US and overseas. In 1999, she sold 56% of the brand to Neiman Marcus for $33.6 million.

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Liz Claiborne acquired the company in 2007 when Spade left her brand. The luxury fashion company Coach announced plans in May 2017 to buy Kate Spade for $2.4 billion.

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The brand is still what she envisioned from the very start: Sleek with utilitarian shapes and colorful palettes that are different from the others.

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Everyone remembers their first 'Kate Spade'

On the morning of her death, people took to twitter to share stories around buying or receiving their first #KateSpade bag.

Actors, writers, politicians and other celebrities posted Twitter tribunes to the design icon.

Kate Spade's apparent suicide came as suicide rates in the United States increased from 1999 to 2014 for everyone between the ages of 10 and 74.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

For white women, the suicide rate increased by 60% during that period.

If someone you know exhibits warning signs of suicide:

  • Do not leave the person alone

  • Remove any firearms, alcohol, drugs or sharp objects that could be used in a suicide attempt

  • Call the U.S. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 800-273-TALK (8255)

  • Take the person to an emergency room or seek help from a medical or mental health professional