{monday muse: kate spade...}

well, more specifically, kate and andy spade. you can't really talk about kate spade without including andy. together, kate and andy created the world famous brand, kate spade. drawing on kate's experience at mademoiselle and andy's experience as an advertising executive, they decided to create handbags that were "simple, functional, and not a million bucks." the first generation of kate spade handbags were all rectangle made of nylon with a very discrete rectangular label affixed to the outside of the bag that simply read, kate spade new york. they later went on to create a mens line of bags called jack spade and continued to expand the kate spade brand to include jewelry, clothing, shoes, home ware and stationery.

since the company's inception in 1993, i have long been a fan of kate spade. aside from the products, what really made me fall in love with kate spade was the company's genius branding. kate spade was the first, true lifestyle brand. there has always been luxury brands that conveyed a certain covetable lifestyle, like tommy hillfiger or ralph lauren. however, buyers never got the opportunity to know the designer in any real, personal way. kate and andy made themselves accessible. before it was commonplace, their website had a page dedicated solely to the books, movies, artists, and music that inspired them. the secret to andy's marketing success: "the bigger you get, the smaller you act." in other words, make your brand personal and it will resonate with people.

"handbags are never really about the nylon, the leather, the pockets, or the straps. once you have all those things and they are all working together and looking nice enough, handbags become about the house you wish you lived in, the film star you most admire, the music you'd like other people to think you like. 'if you look at everything that was going on in fashion at the time,' andy says now, 'there was not a voice that just said hi or hello.'"

in 1998, kate and andy sold 56% of their business to neiman marcus and in 2006, they walked away completely from the company they launched. (you can read about their decision to finally leave kate spade in this article featured in new york mag.)  since leaving, kate has been happily busy tending full time to their daughter, bea. "i haven't been into a kate spade shop since we left, " admits kate. "…i want to be able [to spend time with bea] while i can. when she's like, 'mom, get away from me!' then i'll think about what else i want to do, but i'm incredibly glad i can do this now."

including dad duties, what has andy been up to? let's see, he has conceptualized a mens store for j.crew that is one part liquor store and retail outlet. he owns and operates a gallery known as partners & spade, which also does branding for a california winery, target, and hudson bay co. andy also produces movies, shows for HBO, and has published a book of his iphone photos with harpercollins. in essence andy is doing what most creatives do - stoking the fire of his many passions. (andy, if you ever need an assistant…just saying. ;)

hm, this post got me thinking…all things being equal, how do you choose one product over another? does good branding or packaging matter to you?

well, happy monday everyone! hope you all had a wonderful weekend. here's to another great week together.

source: all quotes and facts from this new york mag article / top photo via the selby / two bottom photos via matchbook mag photographed by from me to you

20 Send Me Your Thoughts:

  1. I love Kate Spade! I have a pair of black suede KS wedges that I adore and I'd kill (or...something) for a handbag. Someday. I love their story, especially the snippets you've shared here. Just the way I'd want to live my life.

    And yes packaging does matter. I need to think a bit before I decide if it matters enough to *make* me purchase, but if the packaging is nice, oh, what a lovely bonus at the end.

  2. Have to say, I don't really get Kate Spade products, I've been in the london store and didn't like anything. Sorry!

    but love their ethos and the accessibility and those are great quotes.

    Does great branding matter? Well R would be out of a job if it didn't . It's so important and we're all suckers for it, even if we think we're immune.

    Packing. Yesterday I went to the ortigia store in Marylebone and it's my favourite packaging in the world. I could stare at it all day long. It's totally my style. Would I be interested in their products if they came in white boxes? Probably not.

    Hello T! Happy Monday xx

  3. Great article on the spades. I love their views on connecting with their customers on a more personal level.

    For me, packaging doesn't make the decision on if I buy something or not. It's simply icing on the cake and really great packaging makes me feel pretty : )

  4. I never knew the Spades story so thanks for sharing it T, like all successful people, their story is so interesting and inspiring. Packaging is so important to me too, it's about the feeling you get as you open something. It's not the be all and end all though as I would probably buy that said product if it was in a less attractive package. It's that feeling, that smile, that endorphin rush that makes it even more special. Happy Monday to you too love xx

  5. Thanks for sharing those home tour pictures, T! I love Kate Spade, everything she makes (err, the company, I should say as she's stepped away from it) is simple and elegant and timeless. I have one Kate Spade bag that I got on mega-sale that I love. And it was reasonably priced even before it went on sale! I like that she's taken a step back to focus on their daughter (adorable name, too. Bea!) and that Andy is going out and getting his feet wet in as many creative endeavors as he can.

    Oh, and of COURSE great packaging is so essential. I agree with Sam, it's half the process of enjoying something, if it's presented in a beautiful and thoughtful way. Here's to a great week! xo

  6. Yes the branding is so important to me! A company, blog, or other creative endeavor's enthusiasm comes across in its branding. I like enthusiasm for whatever your want me to pay attention to. I think happy colors like those of Kate Spade, J.Crew are important too, as well as simplicity like Apple. Don't you think? Teri

  7. I must admit that Kate Spade isn't really my style but, having said that, there are certainly lessons to be learned from their branding and the manner in which into translated into sales/success.

    I think branding is incredibly important because consumers are never really just buying a candle or a handbag they're buying into an ethos and perceived lifestyle implied implicitly through ads, etc.

  8. Wow! Looks like I've forgotten how to speak the Queen's English - haha!!! Oh, well - I think you get the picture ........ :D xxx

  9. Chi, you're so funny!

    Good evening T and welcome to another week.

    I'm also not huge fan of Kate Spade but love your post on them and what they stand for.

    I'd love to have enough money to get involved in all different projects and creative endeavours. Not yet, but one day?

    Packaging and branding are hugely important because they seduce the consumer and in the end we all want to be seduced, n'est pas??? Well I do:) Oh, and otherwise R would be out of a job....

  10. Yes, packaging and branding are really important to me. If it's great the company will get me hooked ;) I don't own anything by Kate Spade but during my research for my recent bike posts I came across the Kate Spade bike. It's green and gorgeous but unfortunately way too expensive...

    Have a great week! :)

  11. I like Kate Spade THE BRAND a lot. I love how the products look displayed together in department stores. The company boutiques are pure eye candy - I own a few Kate Spade items but they are all of the stationery/home accessory variety the clothes and accessories are not really my speed but I really appreciate the branding. They are anything if not consistent. Great post, need to sit down and read that article!


  12. Depends what I'm buying. Usually not a brand loyal type. But actual packaging makes a big difference in my purchasing choices. Minimal, simple and environmentally friendly packaging wins over screaming, uber-fluffy and wasteful packaging.

    Nice post. Kate and Andy are pretty interesting :)

  13. i never got sucked into the kate spade craze...but i am loving their "behind" story on how they launched their the brand!

    does branding matter? yes, but probably not as much as packaging!! i'm a sucker for good packaging!! sometime i don't even want to open up the package cuz it looks so good!!

  14. Good branding makes all of the difference! I love Kate Spade - their designs are great, and their branding is even better. Even their tumblr is beautiful!
    ♡ Lexi
    FASHION: Glitter & Pearls
    WEDDINGS: Glitter Weddings

  15. hi t, you lost it for me. i loved kate spade, but it was the connection to the person. now that i know she doesn't own it anymore, i'm not inspired. her notecards were really fun, and i had a spade diaper bag when the kids were little. tough and good looking.

    happy tuesday, n

  16. Aren't they a powerful couple?! I had no idea Andy is also doing so much... that Partners & Spade is genius! On the note of branding/packaging... I say it's VERY important. A lot of time, it's the packaging that makes me want to purchase.

  17. @LAUREN - OH, L, I bet you look cute in those wedges. ;)

    @ANNIE - Kate Spade is pretty quintessential Americana. Perhaps that's why you didn't care for it? Just guessing.
    "R would be out of a job if it didn't." Made me smile. Very true.

    @TORI - The Spades are pretty unique. I really like their point of view.

    @SAM - I especially enjoyed reading what Andy has been up to. He's an interesting guy with very cool interests/passions, for sure.

    @ERIN - I didn't even realize Kate and Andy had completely left the company until I read the article. I thought they still owned a part of it.

    @TERI - Yes, I definitely think branding is important, even for blogs. One message and look that is carried throughout all public touch points helps your audience remember you.

    @CHI - Hee-hee, I understood what you meant, Chi. Your last point about branding is exactly right. Well said.

    @TINA - Ah, yes, to have the cash flow to pursue all your creative desires, that would be wonderful.

    @NINA - Leave it to Kate Spade to produce a beautiful green bike. I bet it was Kelly green. ;)

    @KATE - The company is definitely consistent. Great point. You almost always know a Kate Spade product even before looking at the label. That's great branding.

    @HOLLY - I favor clean and simple packaging, as well. I think Aveda products do a great job with the environmental sector.

    @JIN - Ha! I've got a few soaps from Fresh that are unopened. They're just too pretty to use. ;)

    @LEXI - Kate Spade has a tumblr? How am I just learning this fact? :) Thanks for the tip, and stopping by.

    @NOREEN - I only just discovered this fact myself. It does feel strange that Kate Spade is no longer part of the company she started. It would be like Martha Stewart leaving MS and the company carrying on without her.

    @JEANNE - Andy's Partners & Spade venture is genius. Do you like how he put "Partners" in front of "Spade", rather than Spade & Partners, which is what everyone does. Always doing something just a little different.
    Well, you've got great branding, Jeanne!

  18. packacking, especially beautiful, ethical packaging makes a huge difference to me. i think that packaging and branding really reach me, i love the visuals. xxx

  19. Whoa! I had considered myself a KS fan, and yet I was totally unaware that they had left the company! I loved the nylon bags from a few years ago. It was the first and only time I've ever purchased an upscale handbag. It remains in lovely condition. I think learning that they are no longer behind the name kind of erases the desire to own anything new by the company. I'd still happily pick up more nylon on ebay though. The brand (in my world) is very high priced, but maybe it's inexpensive compared to other high end? Totally out of my element here.

  20. caroline @trend-dailyJune 27, 2012 at 5:07 AM

    Ah-great review and feature idea for BYW! I'm a sucker for branding and packaging-even in the supermarket. But, having said that, it wouldn't necessarily make me buy if I didn't feel the product lived up to it. Great to hear everyones thoughts on this too. Feel I need to pop into the London store now! :-) Caroline


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