Here's why Kate Spade didn't profit when her brand sold to Coach for $2.4 billion

  • Kate Spade was found dead in an apparent suicide in her apartment in New York on Tuesday, according to multiple reports. She was 55 and leaves behind her husband, Andy, and a 13-year-old daughter, Frances Beatrix.
  • Spade launched her namesake handbag company in 1993 and worked with her husband to grow it into a million-dollar business before it was sold to Neiman Marcus in 2006.
  • Last year, the business was acquired by Coach for $US2.4 billion. At the time, the Spade family had no involvement in the company.

The news of Kate Spade’s apparent suicide on Tuesday morning sent shockwaves around the world.

Fans posted photos of themselves with the fashion designer’s handbags in tribute, while others went to Kate Spade stores to buy them.

Spade was 55. She leaves behind her husband, Andy, and a 13-year-old daughter, Francis Beatrix.

However, since 2007, neither Kate nor Andy Spade, who helped set up the brand in 1993 and later joined full time, have had a role in the business they created.

The story of Kate Spade

The couple built up the business from their loft in Tribeca.

“We had so many boxes in our 1,800-square-foot loft during shipping time that we had a path from the bedroom to the bathroom,” Andy Spade told CNN Money in 2003. “It was hot. We had no air conditioning, and it was August. We had put everything into this. I put in my 401(k) money … We didn’t know for sure that the business was going to work.”

In the late 1990s, the brand was considered an exclusive label. Sales jumped to $US1.5 million in 1995 from $US100,000 in 1993, then to $US27 million in 1998, according to Racked.

In 1999, the Spades sold a 56% stake of the company to Neiman Marcus for $US33.6 million. Years later, in 2006, the remaining stake was sold to Neiman for about $US59 million.

In 2007, the Spade family relinquished all involvement in the business.

Just one week after buying the company, Neiman Marcus sold it to the apparel giant Liz Claiborne for about $US124 million. At the time, Liz Claiborne, which later became Fifth & Pacific, stocked more than 40 brands and generated more than $US5 billion in annual sales, though its handbags-and-accessories business was limited.

Fifth & Pacific went on to sell off its other brands and renamed itself Kate Spade & Company. The brand was bought by Coach (now Tapestry) for $US2.4 billion last year. The Spades did not benefit from this sale because they had stepped away years earlier.

After a brief hiatus from fashion, Kate Spade launched a new handbag-and-shoe company, Frances Valentine, in 2015. She also changed her name to Kate Valentine to match the new brand and distance herself from her previous business.

* If you need help in a crisis, call Lifeline on 13 11 14. For further information about depression contact beyondblue on 1300224636 or talk to your GP, local health professional or someone you trust.

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