Kate Spade‘s net worth is another reminder of why she is regarded as a fashion industry icon. The late businesswoman is the brain behind some of the world’s most iconic handbags and apparel. For those in the dark, Kate not only built an incredible career in fashion but also left a billion-dollar brand legacy. She is fondly remembered for her extraordinary contributions to the fashion world through her classic, quirky, fun, and timeless designs which were born over two decades ago. Find out how Kate along with her husband, Andy, created the iconic eponymous brand that is today adored by competitors and A-listers.
Before she became a fashion designer, Kate Brosnahan a Missouri native, born in 1962, was a journalist with strong interests in fashion. Though she had grown through the ranks while working at Mademoiselle magazine, Kate did not sense a future with the publication. She later ditched her job in 1992 to start her own fashion line. Spade’s decision was encouraged by her then-boyfriend, Andy Spade whom she later wedded in 1994.
Frustrated with the handbag market, the couple officially launched the Kate Spade brand in the early ’90s. Kate’s dream bag designs were inspired by her own mother’s collection. So she tried to produce bags that were timeless, minimally colored, more personal and with a casual feel. With no prior experience, Kate built her handbag empire from the ground, starting out of the one-bedroom apartment she shared with her husband.
Kate Spade’s Journey to a $150 Million Net Worth and a $1 Billion Fashion Line
The first Kate Spade handbags hit the market around 1992/1993. Like most new ventures, she and her husband nearly walked away from the business when they didn’t make any profits for the first three years. But their early financial struggles were later compensated when Barney’s New York and Fred Segal saw potential in the Kate Spade brand and became the first key department store to patronize her iconic designs.
It wasn’t long before Spade gained other big department stores like Neiman Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue as part of her clientele. Not only did sales skyrocket for the fashion designer but it also boosted her profile in the fashion industry. Spade gradually developed a loyal following and also received praise from fashion critics for her retro yet classically simple designs.
After nearly a decade of funding the brand, the Spades sold 56% of the company to Neiman Marcus in 1999. The brand extended its tentacles shortly after cashing out on the sale of the majority stake. Following the success of her handbags, Kate Spade later expanded her fashion line to include other items such as fragrances, men’s bag (Jack Spade), shoes, gifts, jewelry, and much more.
The Spades eventually sold the brand to Neiman Marcus in 2006 and officially walked away from the eponymous business the following year. Kate and Andy took the time off to focus on raising their toddler daughter. Nearly a decade later, Kate and Andy Spade returned to the industry in 2016 with a newly minted fashion line, Frances Valentine named after their child. The new accessories brand sold custom made handbags and handmade footwear.
Meanwhile, after Kate Spade completely gave up control of her eponymous brand which she created with her husband back in the early ’90s, the company struggled to grow. Nieman Marcus later sold Kate Spade’s brand to Liz Claiborne Inc. in 2006. The brand is now owned by Coach parent company, Tapestry.
Unfortunately, the fashion designer was found dead in her home on June 5, 2018, in an apparent suicide. Though uninvolved for years, Kate Spade is better known for morphing a small brand into a formidable business empire valued at $1 billion over the course of two decades. At the time of death, she had a net worth that was estimated at $150 million.
One of the late fashion icon’s designs was Sam Bag. The classic boxy bag was a sensational ’90s staple which was recently brought back to our shelves. Since part of Kate Spade’s goals for her designs was timelessness, it is apparent that her iconic Sam Bag has not only become one of her most prominent fashion legacies but has also outlived Kate. Though Spade hadn’t been involved in her businesses for years, her well-rooted American luxury brand remains associated with her to some extent. Industry stakeholders continue to honor and keep the fashion designer and businesswoman’s brand alive.