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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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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.

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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.