Kate Spade, like so many classic all-American accessories brands that hung off womens’ arms in the 90s, went through a somewhat sleepy transitional period in the latter part of the noughties. Unlike some of those other brands, however, the Kate Spade story is far from over – from 2008 to 2013 it reported an increase from $126 million to $750 million in net sales, and currently enjoys a beloved position in shopping streets in every time zone and every continent. So what exactly is Kate Spade doing so right?
Somebody who probably has all the answers to that is one of our speakers at the Decoded Fashion New York summit: Mary Beech, the Chief Marketing Officer of Kate Spade, has just been confirmed to appear at Metropolitan West. But here’s what we do know: Kate Spade has one of the best brand storytelling strategies in the business. Working their magic in-store and online, the label is going from strength to strength.
A little history: Kate Spade, a former accessories editor at Mademoiselle, set out to design the perfect handbag in 1993. Debuting her namesake collection with just six silhouettes, her colourful palettes were ultra-fresh in a landscape of pared-back minimalism. Fast forward to 2014 and the label has embraced all-new ways to stand out from the crowd – and not all of them involve the handbags themselves.
The past year has seen Kate Spade embrace in-store technologies designed to boost sales. It launched interactive displays across ten of its stores in the early part of the year, with tables encouraging shoppers to pick up physical products from their carefully merchandised surfaces – the screens subsequently display storytelling content such as campaign videos and Instagram images. The startup behind the technology is the NY-based Perch Interactive. In stores, the technology might be suspended from the ceilings above a merchandising table, or alternatively on the wall, in order to project animated images onto the surface below. More recently, the brand even employed in-store technology before a store had actually opened to the public: in New Jersey, a mid-construction façade for a new store was infused with touch screens and an interactive personality quiz to catch the eyes of passers-by. This latest move was yet more proof – as if we needed it – that Kate Spade knows the fashionable tech retail game inside-out.
Reported by Claire Healy