What’s Next For Kate Spade’s Fashion Empire?

Kate Spade, 55, was found dead in her Manhattan apartment on Tuesday, June 5th. Known for her fashion empire, Spade created one of the most recognized design brands in the world.

Originally founded in 1993, the company began as a single Manhattan handbag store which has now evolved into a lifestyle brand with 140 stores in the United States and over 175 shops internationally.

In addition to researching styles and fabrics, Spade gathered inspiration by browsing flea markets and secondhand stores and, as a result, her debut line infused classic shapes, colors and fabrics into a square bag.

The Council of Fashion Designers of America awarded the Perry Ellis Award for New Fashion Talent in Accessories Design to Spade in 1996 and two years later, she was named Accessories Designer of the Year by the trade association. The Council of Fashion Designers of America website wrote in a profile of Spade that “she saw a need for practical, stylish handbags and decided to create a smart, well-edited collection.”

In 1999, Neiman Marcus Group paid $34 million for a 56% stake of Kate Spade New York before acquiring the other 44% in 2006. During this time, Spade took time off to raise her daughter Frances Beatrix Spade, now age 13.

Kate Spade, her husband and business partner Andy Spade, Kate Spade New York cofounder Elyce Arons, and former Kate Spade design director Paola Venturi launched a new brand in 2016 called Frances Valentine. The collection of luxury footwear and handbags was Spade’s last fashion venture before her death.

Although Spade has not been involved with Kate Spade New York for over a decade, the company has released a statement saying, “Kate Spade, the visionary founder of our brand, has passed. Our thoughts are with her family at this incredibly heartbreaking time. We honor all the beauty she brought into this world.”

Tapestry, Inc., which also owns Coach New York, bought Kate Spade in July 2017 for $2.4 billion; therefore the brand can be expected to endure after the events of Spade’s sudden death. However, the future of the Frances Valentine start-up remains unclear.

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