Nicola Glass makes strides at Kate Spade

Nicola Glass makes strides at Kate Spade
There was a quiet pressure surrounding the Kate Spade Fall 2019 show, as the fashion world watches to see what new path creative director Nicola Glass will cut for the classic New York fashion brand.

Kate Spade – Womenswear – Fall 2019 – New York – Instagram: @katespadeny

Held inside the restaurant Cipriani, the venue’s palatially high ceilings made room for towering, rippled plastic walls that transitioned from sheer pink to clear and framed the meandering runway.

High-energy love songs, including Björk’s “Big Time Sensuality,” blasted through speakers as models quickly strode across fluffy pink carpet. Following her debut Spring 2019 collection, which paid homage to the brand’s late founder, Glass’s Fall show appeared to pull heavily from the glamour of the 40s and 70s, with some models wearing silky turbans and others sporting soft, loose waves.

Looks honored the core of Kate Spade with a variety of vibrant and feminine designs in a range of soft colors: an all-purple button-down blouse and wide-leg pant complemented by a purple leopard-print coat; a silky two-tone cream and brown wrap dress; a very 70s blue pinafore layered over a puffy-sleeved cream blouse.

The label’s famous handbags, however, took center stage. Ranging from cross-body clutches to massive totes, the Fall collection featured bags decorated with large leopard-print in classic tones as well as shades of purple, a smaller crystal-encrusted leopard print, a rainbow of snake skins and a smattering of denim.

Clean, structured silhouettes helped rein in these more eccentric touches in, shifting the balance from kitschy to chic. Accompanied by handbags that featured more mature geometric patterns and monochrome leathers, the collection was that of an elevated Kate Spade.  

All in all, it was a smooth yet noticeably cautious next step by Glass, and while one can’t expect her to reinvent Kate Spade overnight, there is still the sense that the designer has yet to make the brand her own.

A similar tentative energy is being felt by Kate Spade investors, who recently learned of the brand’s role in parent company Tapestry Inc.’s weaker-than-expected second-quarter results. While fellow Tapestry brands Coach and Stuart Weitzman both saw an increase in sales, revenues at Kate Spade slipped 1.6% and comparable sales plummeted by 11%.

Tapestry’s shares took a steep dip of 18.3% in Thursday trading following the announcement of the disappointing results.

Kate Spade – Womenswear – Fall 2019 – New York – Instagram: @katespadeny

However, the company’s CEO Victor Luis is optimistic about the Kate Spade brand’s potential under Glass’s creative direction. While acknowledging that comparable-store sales at the label were below expectations in Q2, the executive was keen to point out that initial sales of the Norther Irish designer’s first collection for the brand have been promising. 

“As we’ve entered the second half of the fiscal year, we are delighted to have just launched Nicola Glass’s inaugural collection in our full price channels globally where initial reads have been strong, underscoring our confidence in achieving a significant inflection in the business with a return to positive comps,” he explained in a Q2 earnings release. 

With Tapestry recently completing buybacks of parts of the Kate Spade business in China, it seems that the company will also be looking to stimulate the label’s growth with a renewed focus on the Asia Pacific region, a strategy already being implemented at its Coach brand, which hosted its first ever runway in Shanghai last December. 

Overall, it looks like the fresh design perspective offered by Glass is already rendering positive results at Kate Spade, but whether the designer has a game plan for how to maintain that momentum as she continues to find her feet remains to be seen.

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