Kate Spade Vs Michael Kors: Battle for Manhattan

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Kate Spade vs Michael Kors
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Last Updated on July 17, 2022

If the Big Apple were a Coliseum, these two would be top gladiators! Both Kate Spade and Michael Kors have lived through iconic decades like the 90s and come out stronger and more stylish. And the fact is, they have been in the arena fighting for the top place for quite some time, braving the storms, overcoming COVID-19 and so much more.

But, who would come out on top in a direct face-off between these two brands loved by New Yorkers? We have dug in to find out all there is to know about them and to finally compare them and see who is the real boss of the Big Apple. Read on to find out!

Brand Recognition

Kate Spade

Kate Spade New York is an American luxury brand famous for its bags. They are lauded as being pretty perfect everyday bags and they come in all colors and styles. With such a varied range, there is really a bag for every woman.

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Bags are designed from scratch to favor use over aesthetic add-ons. They are also mostly made of high-quality leather, which makes them waterproof. Practicality is favored above all, prioritizing use and safety over fashion fads. A great example is bags that comfortably fit a laptop, notepad, lunch, charger, phone, and small purse without looking bulky. Basically, the holy grail. A bag that fits what every working woman needs throughout the day at the office and manages to still look great.

Another great aspect of the brand is how fun it is. Everyone loves the carefree, friendly vibe they achieve in their campaigns, its products clearly reflect the same ethos: with bold colors, quirky patterns, and cool designs. This also reflects Kate Spade’s style, which the brand has taken great efforts to conserve after her passing.

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Michael Kors

When it comes to affordable luxury, few brands are as easily recognized as Michael Kors. The brand is renowned for maintaining a design aesthetic throughout its many years in the market that is always focused on clean lines and wearable luxury. That being said, the quality of really expensive items has been put into doubt in recent years. Still, the brand continues to build upon its fame as a go-to company for the rich and opulent while also being somewhat accessible to the upper-middle class.

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Michael Kors’ magic recedes in it creating collection after collection of elegant and rich but simple clothes that allow customers to imprint their own character on their ensembles. Either building on the basics or simply layering it up.

As a designer, Kors’s claim to fame is that he understands women even better than they understand themselves, and this has allowed him to create the clothing women needed but didn’t know they wanted. By using his savoir fair about how they live and wear their clothing, he has combined a pragmatic approach where clothing accommodates women, not the other way around.

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Winner for this category:

It is a tough one! I love both brands for their personality, style, and general brand voice. It is really admirable how both have managed to stay true to their aesthetic through the years. That being said I just adore the fun, happy feeling that every Kate Spade campaign evokes and how most bags have that same lovely spirit. So I have to give it to Kate Spade New York for being the most recognized, and easily recognizable, brand.

Origin story

Origin Story

Kate Spade

Kate Spade New York was founded in 1993 by Kate and Andy Spade. Originally, Kate worked as a style editor for Mademoiselle but left in 1991 to start her own handbag line.

To inspire herself, Kate would browse local flea markets and second-hand stores, while researching styles, fabrics, and production costs for her handbags. Their first handbag was called Sam. Their goal at the time was to make colorful lively bags for trendy consumers.

Bit by bit, she got her team to grow as a company until she built the company we all know and love. After a hefty capital donation from her husband, Kate widened her line of products to include classic shapes, colors, and fabrics into the now-iconic square bag. Their main target audience changed to the upper-middle class of Manhattan.

Michael Kors

Michael Kors’ first foray into fashion was out of his parent’s basement when ran a mini boutique of clothes made by himself. Later on, he went on to study at the Fashion Institute of Technology but he dropped out when he got an opportunity to design in-house for Lother’s.

His window arrangement on the 57th Street store got him noticed by Dawn Mello (one of the world’s most famous luxury retail executives) who asked him who made the clothes. Her interest urged him to launch his own brand, and he was instantly bought by Bergdorf’s.

His brand concept has remained the same over the years, creating classic clothes that feel fabulous and luxurious but are at the same time wearable enough to let the person be the focus, not the garment.

Winner for this category:

Both brands started from nothing and built their empires through sheer determination and hard work, so I find both of them commendable. I am quite partial to Michael Kors’ story because as a designer I found super inspiring the fact that he got recognized for his talent from such an early stage. Both the fact that Kate Spade made her company from scratch is also huge. I couldn’t find how involved was she in the creation process (or if she had hired designers to do it for her), so for this section, the winner is Michael Kors.

Price Ranges

Price Ranges

Kate Spade

Kate Spade is a luxury fashion brand in the $$$ range. It carries a really wide range of items that include bags clothing, shoes, and more. The most expensive item on their website (at the moment of publication) was a dress priced at $498 and the cheapest was a gingham short PJ set at $68. The most expensive bag was $498 (a lovely embellished white bag in a heart shape) and the lowest priced one was a crossbody at $98.

Michael Kors

Michael Kors is a luxury fashion brand in the $$$ to $$$$ range. It carries expensive high-fashion dresses as well as affordable everyday-use garments. The most expensive dress on their website (at the moment of publication) is a $9,990 dress made of embellished floral stretch tulle and the lowest is a $23.4 camouflage nylon sports bra.

Winner for this category:

Keeping in mind the quality materials and the price of fabrication, it feels like Kate Spade is the best choice. I am terribly against overpriced anything, especially after working in the industry as a fashion designer and knowing how much it really costs to make a garment and it seems to me like some of the items featured on Michael Kors’s website don’t really have a reason for being exorbitantly priced.

Kate Spade

Kate Spade is a favorite of influencers and celebrities because of its broad range of basics and bold designs that are always optimistic, fun, and ultimately feminine. This includes clothing and bags alike!

Here are some of its products that caught my fancy:

Madras Tie-Neck Top $228

Lovitt Firework Buckle Small Top-Handle Bag $398

Firework Floral Amelia Dress $468

Roma 3D Tomato Coin Purse $98

Michael Kors

Michael Kors is most famous for its clothing items and bags. It covers a fair share of models, colors, prints, and aesthetics.

Here are some of its top products:

Ribbed Stretch Viscose Tank Dress $195

Amelia Braided Mule $145

Palm Lace Mini Dress $325

Hamilton Legacy Large Leather Belted Satchel $598

Winner for this category:

Kate Spade. No doubt, hands down. Each design in itself is so pretty and fun… It just makes my credit card itch in my pocket! I like Michael Kors too, but if I were to indulge in an investment piece that makes me go starry-eyed every time I wear it, I’d go with Kate Spade without a second’s doubt.

Celebrities endorsements

Celebrity Endorsements

Kate Spade

Some of the die-hard fans of Kate Spade are Mindy Kaling, Taylor Swift, Kate Middleton, Milly Bobbie Brown, Sadie Sink, Lucy Hale, Dillian Jacobs, Suki Waterhouse, Jamie McCarthy, Brittany Snow, Zoe Kazan, Zosia Mamet, Janelle Monae, Issa Rae, and Jamie Chung, among others.

Michael Kors

The brand has featured Solange Knowles, Nina Agdal, Soo Joo Park, Sofia Richie, and Simi & Haze Khadra in past campaigns. When it comes to wearing the brand, Jennifer Lopez, Natalie Portman, Miranda Kerr, Blake Lively, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Heidi Klum are just some of the most notorious A-listers that come to mind.

Winner for this category:

Both brands can pride themselves on being loved by the jet-set. So this is definitely a tie! It seems that Kate Spade’s public tends to be younger and more feminine, while Michael Kors tends to be more mature and tend towards a sexy aesthetic.

What are their sustainable practices?

Sustainable Practices

Kate Spade

Kate Spade New York uses few eco-friendly materials. There is no evidence it reduces its carbon footprint or any other kind of greenhouse emissions in its supply chain or production. Its supply chain is not certified by labor standards and despite having a formal animal welfare policy it has no clear mechanisms to implement it.

Michael Kors

Michael Kors is owned by Capri Holdings, a company rated as not good enough on the Good on You Directory. Why? Mainly because it uses few eco-friendly materials and there is no evidence that it reduces its carbon and other greenhouse gas emissions (neither on its supply chain nor in its direct dealings).

Winner for this category:

Neither. For companies with such an important revenue, they could be making so much more when it comes to being good for the planet instead of continuing to produce garments with polluting policies that help to deteriorate the environment and contribute the one of the world’s most important polluting agent: the fashion industry.

Final Verdict: Who wins?

Final Verdict

Such a tough decision! It was a very close one, but ultimately Kate Spade won out for having the best products for the most reasonable amount of money. Her collections are varied, catering to many consumers all over the world and the brand’s story is one of hard labor and perseverance. One woman with a dream who struggled through self-discovery and realization until she finally achieved her dreams. I find that super inspiring and commendable!

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Lorena Lombardo is a fashion designer specialized in trend forecasting and fashion journalism. She studied at the UAL (University of London), ORT (Universidad ORT Uruguay), and taken various courses about traditional craftsmanship while living in Tokyo. Some of her favorite memories during the 90s include wearing bucket hats and trying to copy Rachel’s hairstyle. Her absolute favorite show was Buffy: the Vampire Slayer but she was also a huge fan of Clueless because of its amazing fashion choices. Her top track of the decade is currently disputed between How soon is Now? by the Smiths and Here with me by Dido. Both also happen to be the opening songs for two great 90s shows: Charmed and Roswell. Coincidence? I think not!

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