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Wash Journal   Fairfield Ledger
Neighbors Growing Together | Jul 20, 2018

Kate Spade: The timelessness of a brand

By Grace King, Mt. Pleasant News | Jun 22, 2018

I’m not sure when my deep obsession with the Kate Spade brand began, but I will never forget receiving my first Kate Spade handbag for Christmas only a year and a half ago.

Two weeks later, I was on a plane to New York City, my black leather purse with a cream-colored bow safely tucked away in my suitcase. Throughout my seven-month stint in the city, I often modeled the purse walking down the street to my apartment or rushing through the crowds at a subway station or accompanying me to an interview — everything I needed tucked safely into the zippered bag big enough to fit a notebook, book and cellphone charger, yet small enough that it won’t give me back pain.

To me, Kate Spade — the brand — represents everything chic and simple. The New York Times wrote that Kate Spade is a handbag that carries women into adulthood, a coming-of-age ritual that shaped a generation of American women.

That’s why the death of the woman behind the brand, Kate Spade, hit a lot of people in difficult and unexpected ways. Spade, who died by suicide on June 5 at 55-years-old, created a handbag with a determination that continues to ring true to young women trying to make it today.

Many people took to social media following Spade’s death, writing that a Kate Spade bag was the first thing they brought to their “big girl” jobs. It represented independence, confidence, girl power and glamour.

The New Yorker wrote that a woman who carried Kate Spade was expressing a kind of “madcap determination” to make it in the big city, even if she was living in a small town with no intention to leave.

“Owning a Kate Spade bag was drinking champagne out of a chipped teacup, or pairing your grandmother’s pearls with a frothy lime-green party dress,” Rachel Syme writes in the New Yorker.

Spade wasn’t born into fashion designer royalty. She crawled her way to the top, reportedly carrying straw totes she found at vintage stores and flea markets in to work as a senior fashion editor at Mademoiselle.

Spade was a business woman, building a brand that became an instant hit in the 1990s. The New York Times reported editor-in-chief of Vogue Anna Wintour as saying Spade had an enviable gift for understanding what women all around the world wanted to carry.

Talented, respected by her peers and loved by her consumers, Spade was not exempt from tragedy.

For years, Spade had been seeking treatment for depression, described severe at times by her husband Andy Spade. Still, Spade’s death came as a shock to her family and friends. Reportedly, her father spoke to her only a day before she died, saying she was planning a trip to meet him in California.

“(Kate) was actively seeking help and working closely with her doctors to treat her disease, one that takes far too many lives,” Andy said to People Magazine. “We were in touch with her the night before and she sounded happy. There was no indication and no warning that she would do this. It was a complete shock. And it clearly wasn’t her. There were personal demons she was battling.”

Spade was buried in her hometown of Kansas City, Mo., on Thursday, June 21. The Kansas City Star reported hundreds of mourners gathering at the church, many clutching their Kate Spade bags “in tribute,” the Star wrote.

This past week, the Kate Spade New York Foundation donated $250,000 to the Crisis Text Line, a free 24-hour confidential text message service for people in crisis. The company is matching up to $100,000 in public donations made from June 20 through June 29.

Kate Spade New York also will host a Global Mental Health Awareness Day for employees as part of its Wellness Program.

If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

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