10 Designer Products That Launched Fashion Empires

Many fashion powerhouses have a product that jump-started their journeys to household names. Here are 10.
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Many fashion powerhouses have a product that jump-started their journeys to household names. Here are 10.

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Last week, the company formerly known as Liz Claiborne, Fifth & Pacific, announced a name change to Kate Spade & Company, a hat tip to its most high-profile brand.

That got us thinking about the Kate Spade bag that started it all. Within a few years of the company’s 1993 founding, its simple, structured bag with only a small, white label affixed to the side became ubiquitous on city streets and college campuses. Its popularity eventually allowed its founder, a former Mademoiselle editor, to expand to full lifestyle offerings of everything from jewelry to shoes to ladylike cocktail frocks.

The evolution and expansion of Kate Spade is not necessarily an exception to the rule — many fashion powerhouses had a product that jump-started their journeys to household names. Some of those goods became classics and some now seem cringe-worthy, but there’s no doubt these designs share a shelf with that little black handbag on the walls of fashion business history.

We've rounded up nine more such products in the slideshow below.