As I’m sure many of you were, I was shocked and saddened to hear the news of the passing of Kate Spade. Considering I didn’t actually know her personally, hadn’t had a single one-on-one interaction with her unlike some lucky journalists, and was not exactly an aspiring designer in my youth, her designs and actions as a designer and woman still had a profound impact on me–as I’m sure they did for many of you.
There was something about her, and the brand she created. The little black nylon boxed bag; I wanted one so badly in high school, but the more budget-friendly jewelry section tided me over in the early years. Right after college, I purchased my first black bag to take me into the real world–a buttery leather Kate Spade piece that would take me from desk to drinks and hold everything from my book and water bottle to my bulky MacBook Pro. It appeared in my second or third outfit post ever (hold the judgement, please :)) and was one of the most exciting purchases I’d ever made. It joined my small but well-loved KS jewelry collection, whose newest member was a pair of navy + white striped studs that J had gifted me for my birthday a couple months prior. While I’ve sold a handful of pieces over the years, those earrings and a little green bow ring my mom bought me will never leave my jewelry box. And my mom actually currently has the aforementioned leather bag in her rotation of daily purses–she fell in love with it’s slouchy yet polished shape after borrowing it one weekend when she visited me in DC.
In my opinion, the Kate Spade brand has done something that no other has achieved. It invokes this sense of colorful playfulness–for all ages–that you didn’t even know you needed. I mean, have you ever walked into one of their stores? Despite Kate and Andy Spade having sold the company years ago, their distinctive, quirky-meets-preppy spirit endures. Much of my wardrobe is monochromatic and neutral, yet the small wallet/clutch I carry whenever I just need my ID, a credit card, and cash (so to most workouts, and nearly every weekend in a crossbody bag) is a bright orange, patent leather Kate Spade piece. As a junior in college, I agonized over whether or not to buy it and was overjoyed when it arrived in my student mailbox; it was on sale for $35 yet was an exciting purchase that somehow made me feel like I had a little piece of luxury among my $8 H&M skirts and Forever 21 tops. I actually thought I lost it on my trip to Thailand a couple of years ago and genuinely panicked; it ended up turning up months later in the external pocket of a random duffle bag I’d checked for my flight home. It feels ridiculous to wax on about a little wristlet I bought as a 22 year old, but it reminds me how entangled this company and joy of a woman have been in my life as my style evolved over the years.
I feel so lucky to have grown up with Kate Spade and her iconic brand–it’s one that’s sure to stand the test of time, and continue inspiring girls, women, aspiring entrepreneurs, and everyone in between. I’m heartbroken for her family and everyone who knew her. Rest in peace, Kate.
PS: One of my all-time favorite How I Built This episodes–a chat with Kate & Andy Spade.
Image: Getty via The New York Times