Kate Spade's Quirky Purses Are Winning the Handbag Game

Kate Spade Fall 2016 - GETTY - P 2016
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Comin' in clutch in a volatile market.

Any member of fashion's Instagram community can tell you that nothing tops off a #FlatLay quite like soy latte art and a quirky-cute accessory — preferably something in a punchy color with an outward-facing designer label.

Enter Kate Spade’s kitschy little leather goods: an ice cream truck clutch, a carousel-shaped bag, a vintage cassette carryall. It’s these attention-grabbing, Instagrammable pieces that, in addition to the brand’s classic silhouettes, have resulted in double-digit increases in the brand's handbag department.

The success of these smaller statement pieces, as well as Kate Spade & Co.’s recent diversification (they've expanded into children's, activewear and home goods categories, to name a few) is responsible for the company’s 14 percent sales spike during the fourth quarter, which puts their numbers well ahead of the rest of a struggling handbag market.

An analyst for Hakon and Helgesen tells CNBC that Kate Spade’s clear branding has distinguished the label from its competitors like Michael Kors and Coach, the latter of which fell short in sales last month despite continued critical praise for Stuart Vevers' upscale handbag offering. Especially at a time when customers are looking to buy smaller (and cheaper) bags rather than oversize totes, Kate Spade seems to have the market on lock.

Like Abercrombie & Fitch, scaling back on promotional sales also boosted the brand’s outlook. That, and its expansion into eight new countries in 2015.

Designing (relatively) affordable Instagram bait isn’t necessarily a revolutionary marketing trend. Must-have accessories including Karl Lagerfeld’s Fendi charm, Jeremy Scott’s Moschino Windex iPhone case or any bauble graced by Alessandro Michele’s magic hand have been flying off shelves and into digital infamy practically since Instagram’s inception in 2013.

Based on its fall 2016 collection, it looks like Kate Spade will continue to capitalize on the success of its bags with new offerings shaped like cats, movie marquees, vintage fans and more. And it won't be hard to get your hands on a piece either, as The Wall Street Journal reports that the brand plans to open 40 stores in 2016. 


A photo posted by kate spade new york (@katespadeny) on