Ladies We Love: Remembering Kate Spade

June 15, 2018

A few weeks ago the fashion world and the world of female entrepreneurship lost an icon…not only for all she created, but for the way she entered fashion and, in short order, left an imprint that’ll last a lifetime.

As her fans know, Kate Spade’s eponymous brand was born the way lots of line are: from necessity. As a young editor at the now defunct Mademoiselle magazine in the 1990s—accessories and the like were her niche—Spade recognized a hole in the market for designer bags that were fun, functional and easier on the wallet for budding fashionistas than the Louies and Hermes’ on the shoulders of their aunts, moms and grams. So with some cardboard, tape, vision, and a partner-in-crime in her equally artistic husband, Andy Spade, the two launched what grew to a far-reaching brand filled with whimsical bags, stationery, home goods, and clothing…all from prototypes created on their very industrious dining table. 

Kate Spade bags put the “fun” in functional.

And boy, did she soar. Pop-culture mavens know that in the 90s, you’d be hard pressed to walk a city block without seeing her lowercased name on a bag that was smart—and, yes, sometimes colorfully sassy—without a hint of stuffy. At its height, Kate Spade Handbags, Kate Spade Home, and her later line Frances Valentine (an amalgamation of family names from her husband’s family and her own)sold for nearly $125 million to Liz Claiborne and later, Coach. And, sure, while those numbers are impressive for something that started so small, Spade’s story is one that’ll live on for how it spurred other young women to turn a dream into reality.

“Kate Spade was a total #girlboss crush for me,” remembers Middy N’ Me’s founder and designer Kim Barratt.

“Her story is pure inspiration for any budding entrepreneur…female or not,” she continues. “Before you get into this business, you know in your heart that it’s the little touches that set any brand apart from the pack; but not until you’re actually building your line and get customer feedback do you realize how important it is. Clearly, Kate Spade designed what was truly in her her heart and being. Her designs were an extension of herself.

“In my opinion,” says Barratt, “her legacy is that no one can steal or duplicate what she shared with all of us, and that’s a wonderful thing. She was one of a kind.”

Later this month The Middy Edit will be launching our first feature in this category, starting with our own Kim. It’s our hope that our lighthearted accounts from our fave “Ladies We Love”—told by them, in their own voice, mad-lib style dontchaknow—will reveal our deep feels for women who have gone before us…trailblazing the heck outta their industries and paving the way for others who want to do what they do. Just as Kate Spade inspired Kim and so many others to just do it. 


While the loss of Spade is palpable—Anthony Bourdain, too—we’d be massively remiss not to remind what everyone else is writing these days: We hear about high-profile sadness that leads to suicide amid celebrity, but with 123 suicides a day across the globe, it’s a problem far beyond the famous crowd. And though we can’t heal someone’s pain, it’s practically our duty as beautiful human beings to stay alert and aware enough to try to notice signs in one another.

This week our hearts are with anyone who is struggling. With anything. And we look forward to using this space to uplift one another about all the good being done in the world by women who are in-it-to-win-it for others.

Kate Spade. Photo appears at

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