Sometimes, it's about the "It" accessory—a specific handbag, a must-have boot. And sometimes, it doesn't matter what the product is—what matters is the brand. That was the case for plenty of young women and teens who were introduced to Kate Spade in the early aughts, and who coveted not just her incredibly tasteful accessories, but the cache that came with it.
Relatively accessibly priced, the company co-founded by the late Kate Spade and her husband, Andy Spade, also served as a gateway brand to many budding style addicts—opening the floodgates to the great big fashion world that lay beyond Spade's signature kitschy, tailored, and always cheerful collections.
"Everyone remembers their first Kate Spade," wrote CNN's Kate Bennett on Twitter. That statement certainly rings true for these seven InStyle editors, who recalled their first Kate Spade memories and what it was like to hold an accessory that was, to them, so much more than just an accessory.
Romy Oltuski, Digital Features Editor
As a tween, I had two prized possessions: A red Kate Spade box bag and a black Kate Spade box bag, both gifts. I can confidently say they were my first real "fashion pieces." They were the essence of bat mitzvah chic and injected a very awkward era in my life with a little bit of style.
Ann Jacoby, Assistant Fashion Editor
I was in middle school flipping through the pages of Teen Vogue when I saw a pair of shoes that I absolutely had to have. They were the most cheerful pair of orange and pink sandals, and I instantly knew I’d do anything for them. I ripped the page out of the magazine and posted it on my bulletin board until I could afford to buy them myself.
Kristina Rutkowski, Market Editor
I had just moved to New York City and was attending school at FIT. I saved all my money to buy the perfect summer shape—a woven box bag in kelly green with bright white handles. I loved the mix of retro detailing, quirk, and modernity that the brand possessed: the perfect first splurge.
Alexandra Whittaker, Digital Associate Editor
My mom and my Auntie Gayle used to gift me Kate Spade for Christmas and my birthday. I remember getting a gold enamel bracelet and a bow-shaped ring one year, and it was one of the first times I truly fell in love with jewelry. I’m grateful to the brand—and it’s late founder—for teaching me not only that fashion could be fun, but that it could be for me too.
Joan Yeam, Senior Video Producer
When I think of Kate Spade I think of a reliable and fashionable brand. In junior high I saved my allowance for a Kate Spade backpack and in college my everyday school tote was a Kate Spade messenger bag (I still have the latter to this day).
Ruthie Friedlander, Special Projects Director
For my bat mitzvah, I decided to return almost everything I received for the sole purpose of buying one very specific Kate Spade messenger bag. It was plaid (grey, red and black) and I wore it until it literally disintegrated. It was my most prized possession.
Isabel Jones, Digital Editorial Assistant
My first Kate Spade purse was a sleek black tote with silver buckles—the picture of sophistication, if you asked me. Being a college senior without the means to shop designer (not that I’m exactly dripping in couture today), the bag was more than just a convenient accessory to me, it was a foray into adulthood. I wore it every day—to graduation, job interviews, and on the first day of my first real job (at InStyle!). I wore the damn thing until the straps literally broke. Kate Spade represented more than style to me, it was a step toward adulthood. I’ll never forget that beautiful bag.