Kate Brosnahan Spade started Kate Spade New York under the name Kate Spade Handbags in 1993 when she set out to design the perfect handbag.
Ms. Spade was a former accessories editor at Mademoiselle. Through her time at Mademoiselle, she noticed that the market lacked stylish and sensible handbags. This inspired her to create a line of handbags with classic shapes, colors, and fabrics.
The brand was sold to Neiman Marcus in 1996 and was then expanded to include stationary, personal organizers, address books, beauty products, perfume, raincoats, pajamas, and eyewear.
In 2004 Kate Spade Home was launched, featuring bedding, bath items, china, wallpaper, and other home products.
In 2007 the company was sold to Fifth & Pacific, formerly known as Liz Claiborne Inc.
In 2008 the new owners cashed out and a new management was installed. The new leadership then expanded the brand to jewelry, shoes, baby, fragrance, and gifts.
Kate Spade apparently committed suicide in her Manhattan apartment. She was 55.
Today Kate Spade New York is a global company with stores in Tokyo, London, Paris, and Germany. The company has retail, wholesale, and e-commerce business. Kate Spade had $462 million in sales in 2012.