The enduring legacy of Kate Spade is much more than her name on millions of bags carried around the world. While her designs were full of bold prints, her business model was unique, too.

Spade blazed the trail for women entrepreneurs that came after her by being a hands-on designer and owner, which was novel for the time. Her creativity came through all aspects of the brand, down to the details.

The Brand’s Evolution

While the brand was booming and featured in major department stores, Kate Spade New York stores began to pop up. It was Spade who wanted to ensure that the brand’s fans could still see all the designs in one experience, not possible in department stores. Kate Spade brick-and-mortar stores were early to recognize the importance of the experience while shopping, something that has become critically important in the days of Amazon and growing e-commerce.

She was smart and savvy realizing the opportunity of lifestyle brands, which was way before other brands. She was able to do this because she was a real person, one that women admired and wanted to know.

She also understood the fashion ecosystem. She was able to find fans across all ages and lifestyles. There were everyday bags for working women, mixing colorful fabrics and practical details, along with creative clutches for special occasions.

She had an original approach when she launched the brand. The aesthetic was something that hadn’t been seen before.  She offered a taste of luxury with well-crafted designs. But this was an accessible luxury. And a quirky one at that. Her bag designs were often whimsical with special touches like animals or expressions about living a fun and festive life.