Andy Spade Reveals Why Wife Kate Started Her Fashion Empire in Resurfaced Interview

Kate Spade built a fashion empire with her Kate Spade New York handbags after being inspired to design something between high-end European handbags and lower-cost bags, her husband Andy Spade said in a recently resurfaced interview.

Andy appeared on The Big Idea, a CNBC show hosted by Donny Deutsch from 2004 to 2008. The interview started off with Andy explaining how his wife decided to start their company.

At the time, Spade covered accessories for the magazine Mademoiselle. She quit the magazine in 1991 and, two years later, launched Kate Spade New York.

"She was tired of carrying bags around and running on trips — which were wonderful trips, by the way — but she was carrying suitcases and actually what happened was one of her employers treated her assistant poorly and she didn't like the way people were being treated at the magazine at the time," Andy explained to Deutsch. "She came home and she quit that day."

At first, Spade had no idea what to do next, but Andy suggested they start a company together. Since she was not happy about there being no handbags available between high-end brands like Gucci and brands like L.L. Bean, she was inspired to create her own brand.

"She said, 'I want a simple tote that's stylish, not dumb, but just has a really simple, practical side to it.' And I said, 'We can do it,'" Andy recalled.

However, Spade never designed anything before.

"I said, 'We're not starting a company. We're just making a bag,'" Andy recalled. "Let's just make a bag."

"I wanted a functional bag that was sophisticated and had some style," Spade explained in a 1999 New York Times interview.

Spade and Andy married in 1994, and the brand they created exploded. In 1999, they sold a controlling interest in the company to Neiman Marcus Group, who bought up the rest of the company in 2006.

After a decade out of the fashion industry to raise their daughter, Frances Beatrix Spade, the couple founded a new brand, Frances Valentine.

At the time of her death, Spade and Andy were living apart, he confirmed in a statement Wednesday, although they were never considering a divorce.

"We were best friends trying to work through our problems in the best way we knew how," Andy said Wednesday. "We were together for 35 years. We loved each other very much and simply needed a break."


Spade was found dead on Tuesday after taking her own life. She was 55.

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