Skip to Content

Is Kate Spade A Luxury Brand? Here’s All You Need To Know

In the world of fashion, luxury brands sit at the top tier demanding the highest prices for their goods.

At the bottom sits mass-produced brands where the prices match the quality.

As a consumer, it’s important to know the difference between them. This will help you find what suits your budget and lifestyle.

Kate Spade models
Image via Kate Spade

Kate Spade is a popular brand among women and it has made quite a name for itself.

If you enjoy high-end and luxury fashion, you may ask yourself, “Is Kate Spade a luxury brand?”

What you wear says a lot about who you are, like it or not. If you want to portray a certain image, the answer will be important to you.

Let’s start with understanding what qualifies as luxury. Then, based on these criteria, we’ll answer the question: Is Kate Spade a Luxury Brand?

Kate Spade handbag
Image via Kate Spade

What is luxury?

When people hear the word ‘luxury’, words like ‘expensive’, ‘classy’ and ‘high-quality’ come to mind.

This is fairly accurate. But, if we want to go deeper, we should consider factors such as exclusivity, resale value, craftsmanship and service.

Other important considerations include heritage, price, brand associations and design.

In recent years, social responsibility has become another important factor.

We must also be able to distinguish between luxury and designer brands. Luxury brands fit all the above criteria, especially price.

These prices are higher than normal and the quality is not required to be the best.

Designer brands are a tier above mass-produced brands. Consumers look to these brands for higher quality.

But they aren’t always exclusive or insanely expensive. Many designer brands are named after their designers, such as DKNY and Tory Burch.

Mass-produced brands are not luxury or designer. They are sold as cheaply as possible to appeal to everyone.

They are not held to the same standards of craftsmanship or responsibility.

These brands also have poor resale value.

Kate Spade handbag
Image via Kate Spade

In 1996 and 1998, Kate Spade won the “America’s New Fashion Talent in Accessories” award.

Her bags were featured in stores like Neiman Marcus, Bloomingdale’s and Saks Fifth Avenue.

Kate Spade would open over 400 stores across the world and achieve great success.

By 1999, the brand Kate Spade was sold to the Neiman Marcus Group. This is also the same year Jack Spade launched, the male extension of Kate Spade.

It featured briefcases, trench coats, travel bags and other products marketed towards men.

Kate Spade changed ownership for a second time in 2006 to Liz Clairborne (now Fifth & Pacific).

The Spades remained a part of the creative process, even when ownership changed hands again.

This time it was to Coach Group (now Tapestry), and all Jack Spade stores were permanently closed.

Kate passed away in 2018, but her legacy lives on through her handbags and other products.

Kate Spade London store
Image by Edwardx via Wikimedia

Exclusivity: Are Kate Spade’s products rare or exclusive?

Kate Spade is nowhere near as exclusive as high-end brands like Louis Vuitton and Prada.

It appeals to middle and upper middle class people who want good quality bags, but aren’t able to spend thousands on a single item.

In terms of rarity, it isn’t difficult to get your hands on Kate Spade’s bags.

Kate Spade creates collections exclusively for its outlet stores. You will probably not find these in department stores like Nordstrom Rack and Marshall’s.

Kate Spade retail bags use high-quality leather like lamb skin. Outlet stores generally have bags made of split and cow leather, which are lower quality.

This gives customers a unique opportunity to access the brand based on their budget.

This isn’t something that top-tier luxury brands do.

Price: How much does it cost?

Kate Spade is affordable luxury. That may sound like a contradiction, but that is the best way to describe it.

The cheapest Kate Spade bag is this Spencer Universal Laptop Sleeve for $110.

It’s a simple, soft, saffiano leather bag with the Kate Spade logo attached.

More expensive Kate Spade products sell for as much as $598. Its Racing Stripe Faye Large Weekender is made of luxe pebbled leather.

It features racing stripes in Italian jacquard, which makes a bold fashion statement.

Besides bags, Kate Spade offers accessories like phone cases, watches, sunglasses and hats.

These range from $24 for 3 pairs of NYC Icons Boxed Crew Socks to $348 for a Knott Colorblocked Commuter Bag made of pebbled leather.

Brand associations: Celebrity collabs

Though some of the following celebrities did not officially collaborate with Kate Spade, wearing the brand was enough to make it iconic.

Gwyneth Paltrow was one of the first celebrities to wear it in the 90s. Swedish supermodel Vandela wore her $120 bag to the Oscars in 1995.

In 2006, American actress Rosario Dawson graced the Met Gala carpet with her shimmery Kate Spade bag.

Tina Fey, Meghan Markle and the Olsen Twins have all worn Kate Spade products.

Younger celebrities like Taylor Swift, Millie Bobby Brown and Gillian Jacobs are now carrying the mantle.

If these celebrities are wearing Kate Spade, is Kate Spade a luxury brand?

Luxury brands as an investment: Resale value

Kate Spade has a decently sized community of resellers. You’ll find them on platforms like Poshmark, ThreadUp and Amazon.

Their products in no way compare to Chanel or Dior, and are mainly sold for lower prices as second-hand items.

Their value immediately decreases once they leave the store.

Craftsmanship: Quality of make/quality of materials

Kate Spade is a designer brand known for its superior craftsmanship. If there was one thing the brand has been able to maintain after all these years, it is its quality.

Kate Spade is an especially good brand for timeless pieces and functional handbags.

One could compare it to the quality of Micheal Kors.

Some bags are made of materials like nylon and coated canvas. Note that Louis Vuitton uses a lot of coated canvas, so that should say a lot about its longevity.

They’re also made of raffia, a type of material created using raffia palms.

The finest Kate Spade bags are made of saffiano leather from Italy.

Kate Spade bags are produced in the US, but the majority come from China, Indonesia and Taiwan.

Some Kate Spade products are made in the Philippines, Dominican Republic, Italy, Cambodia and Vietnam.

Generally, the origin is tied to the material. For example, those made of leather, calf hair and suede come from Italy and D.

R. Those made of wicker and straw come from Taiwan and the Philippines.

Design: Aesthetic, creativity, sophistication

The most popular Kate Spade bag is the Sam Shoulder Bag. Some call it the ‘it bag’ of the 90s.

It has a versatile boxy design, which makes it perfect for both day and night.

The original bag was made of nylon, but today, it comes in leather, denim, canvas and raffia.

Raffia bags officially launched in 2006 and were an instant hit. These basket bags were created for everyday wear, but had a vacation vibe to them.

The All Day Tote is also fairly popular. It’s simple, sophisticated and only has the Kate Spade logo.

A cheaper version of this is the Kitt Tote.

The Knott Crossbody Bag is also an iconic piece and features a simple, elegant design.

For even higher quality, the Carson Bag is made of saffiano leather and is relatively affordable.

Responsibility: Ethics and Sustainability

Kate Spade has made a strong commitment to sustainable fashion. This includes tracking the sources of their materials through the Sustainable Apparel Coalition.

The company has also made a strong effort to support mental health organizations.

This follows the death of Kate Spade due to an apparent suicide. The brand also supports women’s empowerment movements and up-and-coming female designers.

Service: Customer experience

There’s something in Kate Spade for every woman. Unlike other brands which cater to certain women, its sizing is not restrictive.

The sizes range from XXS to 2XL, as well as 00 to 16.

When you walk into a Kate Spade store, you’ll feel the strong feminine presence behind the brand.

Customers online seem to agree that the outlets are best. The same can’t be said for department stores.

Kate Spade bags purchased from outlet malls have shorter warranties, often about a month.

When you buy directly from retail stores, you’ll be given a 1-year warranty.

Final words: Is Kate Spade a luxury brand?

For many young women, Kate Spade has been their bridge to luxury. One could call it a rite of passage that opens up the door to high-quality luxury brands.

Overall, Kate Spade is a good brand, but it wouldn’t qualify to be on the same level as Balenciaga, Hermès or Gucci.

Is Kate Spade a luxury brand? No, but it’s close enough for someone on a limited budget.


What kind of brand is Kate Spade?

Kate Spade is a fashion brand that is mostly known for its handbags. Today, Kate Spade has branched off to other accessories such as sunglasses and hats.

They also carry shoes, clothing and jewelry.

Which is higher-end: Coach or Kate Spade?

Coach is more expensive and has better quality products than Kate Spade. This does not mean Kate Spade is not a good brand.

The company still sells quality goods, but at a more reasonable price.

Is Kate Spade the same as Coach?

Coach bought Kate Spade in 2007, but that doesn’t mean it’s the same thing.

Both offer similar products with their own designs. Kate Spade remains true to its brand.

Why is Kate Spade so popular?

Kate Spade is popular because it caters to women in the middle class. Their prices allow women who would not be able to afford luxury brands to get their hands on high-quality merchandise.