It’s very easy to spot a Kate Spade New York bag.
Without needing heavy logo-embedded prints, designer Kate Spade has an aesthetic that will live on forever. In 1993, the Midwestern writer left her job as an accessories editor at Mademoiselle to design what she felt the market was missing: colorful, utilitarian-inspired handbags. Three years later, the fashion expert was riding her famous bike, complete by a wicker basket, to her first store in the Soho District of New York City. That year, the storefront with bright, artistic displays broke $6 million in sales, as reported by WWD.
Her color palettes and quirky quotes were making New Yorkers smile. And, for those obsessed with accessories, the stark uniqueness of her brand made her customers standout with ease. Soon, she was battling a number of infringement suits to maintain the integrity of her design.
In fact, by 2006, the designer’s brand was so recognizable and successful that fashion conglomerates, such as Liz Claiborne Inc. and Neiman Marcus group, took interest in ownership. The founders sold Kate Spade New York, leaving the company.
Her impact on fashion, however, didn’t end there, especially as her legacy, which includes pick-me-up quotes, preppy style and bright accessories, continued to grow.
In 2016, she and husband Andy Spade started a new company, Francis Valentine, which subtly reestablished her status as the brains behind her Americana aesthetic with similar styles to her original designs.
On the anniversary of her sudden and tragic death, we’re taking a look back at all of the times she impacted the fashion world. Scroll through her journey below.
This story was originally published on Tuesday, June 5, 2018 at 1:53 p.m. PT.