Through Her Bags, Kate Spade Was Always With Us. I Wish We Could Have Reciprocated

Through Her Bags, Kate Spade Was Always With Us. I Wish We Could Have Reciprocated

On paper, I am the anti-Kate Spade customer. I don’t wear bright colors or prints, and avoid trends. I never bought a pashmina, for example, despite the logic and comfort of wrapping one’s self in a large, soft piece of fabric during an over-airconditioned meeting or meal.

Yet I own an embarrassingly large number of Kate Spades. Crossbodies, convertible bags, wallets. Rectangular purses with double zippers and long straps. Backpacks, laptop carriers, and travel bags.

A purse is like a supportive best friend. It keeps your secrets (half eaten dark chocolate Kind bar, four-month-old crumpled ATM receipt) and never judges. Like an upbeat BFF, a cute bag brightens you up. To buy a purse is to indulge in the ultimate feel-good purchase. Unlike clothes, they have no size. They offer no reminder of the weight you have gained or feel the need to lose.

Plus, purchasing a purse or tote doesn’t require entering a small, overheated or drafty dressing room. The critical mirror need not enter the equation.

It is a sport unto itself, this search for the perfect bag. My Endless Bag Hunt — or EBH, as my husband calls it — provides an opportunity for me to reinvent myself, with far less consequences than chopping off my hair or dying it platinum blond.

At the same time, the idea of carrying something across my body with someone else’s name on it is anathema. I won’t even consider looking at a line of clothing or shoes with a celebrity moniker. The accessories line with which I most identify is Italian leather crafter Bottega Venetta. Their slogan: When Your Own Initials are Enough.

But the bags I buy say Kate Spade. In fact, every Kate Spade bag says Kate Spade. The company website description reads, “crisp color, graphic prints and playful sophistication are our hallmarks.” Its tagline is Live colorfully.

Yet the wallpaper in my life is film noir. As such, all but one of my Kate Spade bags are black. They complement my all-black wardrobe and enable me to further my style theory, which is that clothing and accessories should be secondary. I prefer to let my wild curly hair (that I’ve struggled to love), jewelry, and personality stand out.

Only a designer with a strong sensibility can please women in both camps: those who like bold, colorful bags with occasional flowers or flamingoes, and the more shape-oriented like me, who prefer simple, elegant black bags with a single pocket or zipper.

If diamonds are a girl’s best friend, bags are her constant companion. It is heartbreaking that we, her loyal customers, were unable to be that friend or companion for Kate Spade.

Beth Herman is an artist, essayist, and school docent at The National Gallery of Art. Her essays have been published in The Wall Street Journal, Legal Times, The Washington Times, and on NPR. Her children’s books, "You, Me and Mr. Moopoo Makes Three" and "Mr. Moopoo in the Kitchen" are available on Amazon.
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