When a Handbag Defines You


Kate Spade is seen as a semi luxury product aimed at predominantly younger female customers who might be interested in the carefree, happy and cutesy lifestyle that the brand portrays. The ads do not obviously try to sell the products on the ad, but rather are selling a lifestyle and the brand itself. This is partially shown by the fact that the ads, other than Figure 2, do not explicitly state the product being sold. The mood of each of the ads seem to follow these same themes of whimsicality and sophistication. For example, Figure 1 evokes all of these themes, but her dressed in business clothing and speaking into a phone with a serious face also emphasizes work and productivity. Figure 1, then, emits a mood of sophistication but also of


Figure 1: Kate Spade Print ad

intelligence and practicality. This ad may be appealing not only to youth, but also to the older generation who are already in the workforce. Figure 2. also portrays sophistication but in addition to celebration and the warmth of friendship. The purpose of this is to, again, bring youth and maturity together. 

The ads analyzed are mainly colorful. Aside from those discussed here, the other ads that were looked at are also full of color. In fact, a major tagline for Kate Spade is “Live Life Color Fully,” which furthers its brand as cheerful and bright. The colors chosen for the ads include bright red, white, bright green, pink, and aqua. Figure 2  includes more red, black, and white. This, in its own way, supports the Kate Spade agenda since these are timeless, seemingly classy and mature colors since they are darker and do not pop out. Therefore, Kate Spade does straddle the line of sophisticated maturity and bright eyed youth as illustrated by the color scheme. 

Among all of the ads, there seems to be an emphasis on serif typefaces including, most obviously, the Kate Spade logo. Serif typefaces seem to portray more classical, old age feel. This seems to make sense as Kate Spade markets itself as a classic, timeless brand that takes fashion cues from the past as illustrated by its more conservative, vintage inspired clothing line.  However, the ad with Anna Kendrick has the word “featuring” in a sans serif typeface. This could be for the reason that sans serif tends to have a modernity associated with it. “Featuring” connotes the idea of newness, which does fit the idea that a new product would have a more new age font. The incorporation of both fonts illustrates the company’s ability to walk this duality of youth and maturity. 


Figure 2: Anna Kendrick promoting Kate Spade handbags and clothing.


Another striking aspect of the Kate Spade can be found in Figure 2. There is an emphasis not only on the celebration but also on gender. Anna sits in the middle of five men, all ranging in age. Interestingly, she seems to look the youngest of the men, as one man is balding and the other has entirely white hair. The message being portrayed may be that youth is idealized among women and that being associated with older men can signify class for the same woman. This is shown through the fact that Anna is clearly happy and the men look intrigued by her. This could be problematic in that it furthers a double standard among beauty trends between men and women.

The ad that utilizes white space the most is Figure 3. The ad that uses white space least effectively is Figure 1. Most clearly, in Figure 3, the white space is represented by the plate surrounding the ring and fortune cookie in the middle of the shot. There is also white space in this ad since there isn’t too much text overwhelming the picture. Therefore, the ring and cookie / message are emphasized. However, the very text that is being highlighted at the focal point of the ad is practically unreadable. This seems to be an issue since the reader has to strain to understand what it says. Another problem is found in Figure 1. Figure 1. seems to be very busy, as shown by the polka dots and the complexity of the clothing. This is problematic because the eye becomes confused at where it should rest due to the lack of white space.


Figure 3: Kate Spade brand ad. The fortune cookie says “You will dine happily ever after.”

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