direct-to-consumer lines like M.
Gemi. Then there’s the economy:
“America is not a growth engine for
luxury,” says Sucharita Mulpuru, an
analyst at Forrester Research. “Amer-
icans aren’t spending a ton, and we’re
not seeing more rich people [enter
the market].” The Frances Valentine
team is undeterred, banking on the
strength of Kate’s designs and her
husband’s marketing savvy.
The company’s fall line, which
includes patent-leather flats and
suede ankle boots, haircalf totes
and leather bucket bags, is remi-
niscent of Kate Spade: elegant yet
quirky, with an air of preppy sub-
urbia. But like the designer herself,
it’s a bit more grown-up, and Kate
says she’s brought a new architec-
tural perspective to her work. The
signature Frances Valentine heel
is a textured knob, a nod to Buck-
minster Fuller’s geodesic dome.
“The shoes really have a very dif-
ferent and distinct point of view,”
says Anne Egan, VP and divisional
merchandise manager for salon
and designer shoes at Nordstrom.
But with the U.S. clothing and
accessories market expected to
grow by less than 2% this year,
according to Mulpuru, Frances
Valentine will also have to attract
shoppers by creating a strong
brand identity. That’s where Andy
comes in. After growing Kate Spade,
he spearheaded the concept and
launch of its rugged menswear
line, Jack Spade, in 1999. Since then,
through his creative studio, Part-
ners & Spade, he’s worked on mar-
keting campaigns for companies
including J.Crew, Whole Foods, and
Target, and led the design of Warby
Parker’s successful retail outposts.
With Frances Valentine, Andy
has tasked himself with creating a
company narrative that resonates.
He’s looking to open a flagship in
New York and plans to bolster their
social media presence with insider
content. And he’s personalizing
things: The brand’s first photo shoot
took place in the desert, an homage
to Andy’s childhood in Arizona,
while the second campaign is set in
the Spades’ Manhattan apartment
and focuses more on the couple’s
city life. “We’re trying to figure out
what our lives are now and how to
talk about that—how to tell a more
grown-up narrative of where we are
today,” says Andy.
For the Spades, business will
always be personal. “When we left
the [industry], everyone said, ‘Why
would you ever go back to it? You
don’t have to do this,’ ” says Andy.
“And we say, ‘No, we love to do this.’
It’s important that we get back to
doing what we love to do.”
Kate and Andy Spade launch
their first company out of a cramped
N. Y.C. loft. Kate’s soon-to-be iconic
nylon handbag is quickly picked
up by retailers such as Barneys and
The Spades open their inaugural
store, in New York City’s SoHo
Neiman Marcus purchases a 56%
stake in Kate Spade for $34 million,
giving it majority ownership; the
first Jack Spade store opens and
reveals Andy’s quirky style: Alongside clothing and messenger bags,
it features a collection of boyish
objects like a huge stuffed shark
and an old Boy Scout manual.
Kate Spade enters pop culture with
a mention on Sex and the City.
Kate Spade expands rapidly, adding nine stores, unveiling a home-ware collection, and launching an
Andy Spade is infusing
Frances Valentine with
his own life story.
HOUSE OF SPADES
A timeline of Kate and Andy’s journey from scrappy
entrepreneurs to CEOs (and back)
Kate and Andy have a daughter,
Frances Beatrix Valentine Spade,
The Spades and their Kate
Spade cofounders, Elyce Arons
and Pamela Bell, sell their
minority stake to Neiman Marcus;
Liz Claiborne acquires the
company later that year.
J.Crew’s Liquor Store, an artsy
Manhattan menswear boutique
that Andy helped conceptualize
and design, is a hit with critics and
shoppers. Its success helps his
nascent branding studio, Partners
& Spade, gain traction.
Partners & Spade goes national:
Andy and his cofounder, Anthony
Sperduti, develop Target’s
eccentric, well-received “Falling
for Fall” television spot.
The Spades launch their new
Frances Valentine line with a party
in Kate’s hometown of Kansas City.
A gold leather bag
Right, the line’s
signature Bella heels.