Women recount why their Kate Spade purse was more than a handbag

Updated 5th June 2018
Author Melanie Benjamin promised to buy herself a Kate Spade purse if she ever made the New York Times Best Sellers list. She sent this photo to her agent when her novel "The Aviator's Wife" made the list in 2013.
Credit: Melanie Benjamin/Twitter
Women recount why their Kate Spade purse was more than a handbag
Written by Maya EliahouDavid Williams, CNN
Melanie Benjamin made a pact with herself. If her book "The Aviator's Wife" hit the New York Times Best Seller list, she'd buy herself her first Kate Spade bag.
"That was what I told myself - I make the list, I buy my first Kate Spade," she told CNN.
Benjamin still has the bag and the dust cover it came with.
Because to her -- and many other women like her -- a Kate Spade handbag is more than just a purse.
It's a rite of passage, they said. It symbolized a sense of independence or accomplishment.
After the world learned of the iconic designer's death Tuesday, many women tweeted out stories of their first Kate Spade.
To some, buying a Kate Spade bag represents stability and independence, and people like Jonquilyn Hill and Elizabeth Barr were proud to make a Kate Spade bag one of their first big purchases as professionals.
Taylor Jay bought her first Kate Spade item around two years ago.
"It felt like an accomplishment for me because for the first time, I felt myself stepping into a world of luxury," Jay said. "Kate Spade's designs were otherworldly, crafted eloquently with genuine material. I appreciated it being luxury that was affordable but still not too easy to get without saving. I feel like a real woman carrying her bag on my arm."
When Jay secured a new job last fall, she celebrated by buying another Kate Spade bag.
Tawny Pham's first Kate Spade bag was special because it marked the end of her teenage years as a 20th birthday gift. "I felt really mature but also innocent [because] Kate Spade's [designs] are ALWAYS so classy and cute," Pham said.
Gifting the designer bags can also be a family tradition. Actor Gloria Mann shared how she passed down her first Kate Spade bag to her daughter after her high school graduation on Twitter.
Whether it is a gift or a big purchase, Kate Spade's bags inspire women to work hard and stay stylish all the while, many women said.
Soledad O'Brien says that Kate Spade & Company donated handbags to young women so they would feel confident and empowered during their internships.
Spade may have passed away, these women said -- but her bags have left an unforgettable mark on those who will continue to carry them.
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