I’ve said before that Kate Spade’s design aesthetic appeals to my sartorial sensibilities—I love the bows, the whimsical prints, and the high street take on designer styles. Over the years I’ve added a not-insignificant number of Kate Spade styles to my closet, all of which were purchased on (at least a moderate) sale. As the token shopping expert of my friend group, I always advise people against purchasing Kate Spade at retail prices. In fact, I challenge you to find a Kate Spade style that can’t be bought at a discount.
The simple fact is that Kate Spade products are heavily marked up to account for the heavy discounts that they are eventually subjected to. I am not at all immune to fire sale pricing tactics, though have donated enough items bought during those sales that I have learned to just stay away.
Kate Spade (specifically its outlet arm) is currently embroiled in a class action over the practice of “illusory discounts.” People who shop often (e.g. me) know MSRPs are a anchoring device that often misleads shoppers about the value of an item but people who have lives and do not derive perverse pleasure from trying to decipher pricing strategies often fall prey to this unsavory practice. Many retailers now produce merchandise made exclusively for sale at outlet locations but tag them with retail-level prices.
Michael Kors settled a similar suit earlier this year, paid 4.88 million dollars, and agreed to take steps to address confusing pricing practices. I doubt Kate Spade will admit to wrongdoing, but even as someone who keeps a pretty close tab on Kate Spade’s collections, I can’t distinguish, when shopping Kate Spade’s many flash sales, a retail style from an outlet copy, since Kate Spade recycles styles for outlet stores. Sometimes there really are no observable differences in quality between the two.
Having said all of this, the bottom line for me is that despite employing some morally ambiguous business practices, Kate Spade serves a wide swath of shoppers who love their products (like me!) so I will continue to shop there, though will proceed at my own risk.
Take the bag featured in this post. I thought the sale price ($159 on Gilt, which offered a disclaimer on the original price posted) was reasonable; I was even able to use an additional 40% off code, which sweetened the deal. While the color, a medium pink, was probably a poor choice for me, a rough handler of bags, the quality was more than fair for a < $100 bag.
|Zara Masculine Coat | c/o Ann Taylor Cable Turtleneck Sweater | Kate Spade Emerson Place Vivenna Mini Crossbody | Gap 1969 Sexy Boyfriend Jeans | Unbranded shoes|
The “mini” crossbody measures about 7.5″ long, 5.5″ high, and 1.5″ deep. I wasn’t able to fit much more than my glasses, phone, two tubes of lip gloss, and a small card wallet in the bag but it’s the perfect bag for running errands or going on a brunch date.
The long strap has a 23″ drop and can be adjusted to about half its original length to convert the bag to a shoulder bag.
|Burberry Glasses | Clinique Chubby Stick Moisturizing Lip Colour Balm in Two Ton Tomato + Chubby Stick Baby Tint Moisturizing Lip Colour Balm in Poppin’ Poppy | Marc by Marc Jacobs Rose Gold Watch | Kate Spade New York Polar Bear iPhone 6 Plus Case|
I’ve worn the bag a half dozen times and, other than having to be careful in how I store the bag (I wrap the chain strap with a piece of felt to prevent it from imprinting on the soft quilted leather), find that the bag is fairly low maintenance.
The Kate Spade Emerson Place Vivenna Mini Crossbody is available in black. A larger version, the Emerson Place Vivenna Bag, is available in three colors—mulled wine, mousse frosting, and black.