Kate vs. Tory

Kate Spade and Tory Burch

Kate Spade and Tory Burch

So there I was at Nordstrom’s yesterday, trying to decide between two handbags.  The first was a square-shaped, black leather Kate Spade bag.  It wasn’t too big or too small.  It had a top handle and a shoulder strap.  The bag also had some metal hardware on the front flap.  Simple and classy; everything that I look for in a bag.  The second was a square shaped, black leather Tory Burch bag.  This bag was also just the right size.  It too had a top handle and a shoulder strap.  The ONLY difference was that this bag had gold hardware on the front, rather than metal and no flap.  Oh, and at $525, the price was $127 more than the Kate Spade bag.   I stared at the two nearly identical bags for a long time.   I pictured wearing them with all of my outfits.  I pictured wearing them with a suit to work, with jeans at the market on the weekends, and in a LBD on a night out on the town.  These two bags were equally versatile.  Either one would work.  So, then the question became….would I rather be wearing Kate Spade or Tory Burch?

When you buy an item made by a designer who displays his/her name on their product, it’s like you are agreeing to advertise for the designer.   Do I want to be known as someone who buys Kate Spade or Tory Burch?  Do I like Kate Spade or Tory Burch?  What do I even know about these women?  Do I identify enough with them to wear their names?  This isn’t like when you go to Coach and buy a bag with little “C’s” all over it.  You are not just advertising for a brand; you are advertising for a person.  So, if you choose to buy something by a designer whose product bears her name, wouldn’t you at least want to know a thing or two about the person and actually like her?

When looking at these two bags, I had to ask myself who I would rather be wearing.  Then I decided that spending 30 minutes in the handbag section of Nordstrom’s was causing me to have a blazing headache.  So, I decided to grab a coffee at Starbucks and do some research on Kate and Tory before making a decision.

Here’s the facts:

Kate Spade

Tory Burch








Kansas City, MO

Valley Forge, PA


December 24, 1962

June 17, 1966

Maiden Name



K-12 Education

St. Teresa’s Academy, all girl prep   school

Agnes Irwin School, all girl prep school


Arizona State University

University of Pennsylvania



Art History

Current Residence

New York, NY

New York, NY

Magazine Career

Worked for Mademoiselle

Worked for Harper’s Bazaar

Year Company Founded




Andy Spade (1994-present)

Christopher Burch (1997-2006)

Spouse’s Company

Jack Spade/Partner’s & Spade

J. Christopher Capital LLC/ C. Wonder


1 daughter; Frances

3 sons; Henry, Nicholas, Sawyer


Retro Urban Sophisticate

Preppy Bohemian Socialite

Mostly known for

fun and quirky handbags

“Reva” ballet flats

Logo Kate Spade Logo Tory Burch Logo
Kate vs. Tory: Compare the Handbags

Compare the Handbags


8 thoughts on “Kate vs. Tory

  1. Thanks, Francesca! I ended up not choosing either handbag that day. I went home and wrote this blog instead. Since then, I have purchased both a Kate Spade and a Tory Burch handbag (in different styles) and I have been pleased with both. It is interesting to me to see how customers choose their loyalty between two designers who have so much in common. Thanks for reading…and commenting!

  2. great post!

    its hard to choose.

    I was picking out a gift for someone today and had a similar opportunity, I chose both as well.

    its good to have classic and trendy.

  3. i’m a bit late in late in the discussion here but this article hits the spot.

    was recently in the market for a Tory Burch bag but the one i wanted was no longer available so i considered getting this: http://www.toryburch.com/york-buckle-tote/22149613.html?start=3&cgid=handbags-totes&dwvar_22149613_color=001
    which is 400 Singapore dollars (SGD).

    however, one of my recently (June 2014) bought Kate Spade bag had an issue with side coating of straps and edges of the bag so I went back to the store to have it repaired. i was told they could not restore it but i can have it replaced with a new one. of course, the older design, which i bought on sale, was not longer available so i had to add cash to replace it with a new bag. I ended up with this (in black): http://www.katespade.com/cedar-street-medium-harmony/PXRU4423,en_US,pd.html?dwvar_PXRU4423_color=001&dwvar_PXRU4423_size=UNS#start=10&cgid=ks-handbags-shoulder-bags which is 420 SGD.

    Needless to say, the bags are so similar. I was quite surprised that Kate was a bit pricier for this model. i’ll probably go for a Tory sometime in the future.

    • You are right, Anne. Those two bags are very similar–down to the gold hardware! It’s a bit surprising that KS could not repair the bag. I wonder if TB would repair a bag with a similar issue. That would definitely help me make a decision when choosing between the two brands. Thanks for commenting. It is interesting to see the battle of the brands still in full swing even a couple of years later. These days I find myself leaning more towards Tory. I admire the fact that she is still actually designing her lines and running her business. Plus, she has started a foundation to help female entrepreneurs–a noble cause.

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