Q&A: Kyle Andrew on the Spirit of Kate Spade Saturday

Kate Spade Saturday q&a new lead image

This spring, kate spade new york gets a high-spirited little sister, in the form of Kate Spade Saturday.  The unique, youthful concept will be represented across a full lifestyle brand, with clothing, accessories, beauty, and home decor.  And while Saturday will be offered at a lower price point than its predecessor, the line will be presented as a separate (though spiritually related) endeavor from kate spade new york.  We sat down with Kyle Andrew, kate spade new york’s Senior Vice President Brand Director, to learn about the two lines’ shared energy, Saturday’s forthcoming international launches, and just how the team pinpointed the ideal Saturday shopper.

The High Low:  What are some of the specific inspirations for the line?  How did it begin?

Kyle Andrew:  We started thinking about this line around three years ago. kate spade new york had become a huge success story, drawing on some of the brand’s original DNA, while taking it in a new direction. But we realized that part of the original brand, the functional and utilitarian side, as expressed through the iconic black nylon bags, wasn’t being addressed. It had become more polished and sophisticated.  There was room to expand there.  Second, there was an opportunity to provide something more casual, because kate spade had gotten dressier.   We wanted to create something for someone who does more than goes to parties and work — she has the weekend, a life after work.  And the third thing — over the last three years, it felt like there was an opportunity to bring a younger customer into the kate spade brand, to get her engaged with it, and for her to move up into the kate spade new york line.  These ideas have evolved and grown over time to turn into Kate Spade Saturday.  We got the name right away because it brings to life all three ideas.  We felt there should be a connection to the original brand, and they should share the same core values.  They’re both colorful, playful, and clever, and they’re connected because they share a name, but each line is realized in a different way.

HL:  Speaking to that last point — we know Saturday is, in many ways, independent from kate spade new york, but can you tell us how the two brands are still related in spirit?

KA:  Yes — the spirit of the line is the same, but the design aesthetic is quite different.  Because we share a name, there are some things we have to keep.  Even though Saturday is younger, more casual, and more easily accessible, we didn’t want to go down the path of, for instance, Urban Outfitters, which is also young, but grungier and edgier.  With kate spade in the name, the line has to stay aspirational and chic.  It has to have a certain finish to it.

HL:  Saturday is priced a bit lower than kate spade new york.  How did you decide on the price point?

KA:  It’s a combination of things — we tried very hard not to create items and price points that would compete with kate spade new york.  We didn’t want the customer to have to make a choice — we want there to be room for both lines in her life.  And of course, we researched our intended customer to see what she would be willing to pay for certain things.

HL:  And who is the ideal, intended Saturday customer?

KA:  Well, we had started doing research on the kate spade customer, to see who was already shopping with us, and who the customer could be.  We saw a younger woman who is interested in and excited by kate spade new york, but is not quite ready for it.  She loves the spirit and feeling of the brand, but it’s a little too polished for her.  She doesn’t quite have that job or life yet where she dresses for work and then goes out for cocktails.  She’s at her second job out of college, for example.  She’s living by herself or with a boyfriend or roommate.  Her style is important to her, as is being unique, individual, and expressive.  The idea is to attract her to the brand with Saturday, and fulfill her needs until she gets to the point where she needs dressier clothes for work or going out, and graduates into kate spade new york.  Of course, we imagine the kate spade customer will buy Saturday when she needs shorts to go out to the beach on weekends.  But we do see them as distinct customers.

HL:  Are there going to be any special digital initiatives associated with the line?

KA:  We’re very proud that we’ve spent so much time talking to and thinking about the customer.  In the fashion industry as a whole, that’s not a strong point.  We’ve done qualitative and quantitative research, including showing the potential customer the Web site.  This girl spends her life online — she doesn’t distinguish between offline and online life.  So we thought, let’s be where she is.  We are only offering Saturday through our Web site for the first few months of the brand.  It’s risky to launch a brand like ours online only, but it’s a big statement about how we feel about the customer.  And, because we’re only online and the customer is so savvy in that sphere, we pushed ourselves really hard to make a great site.  Johanna Murphy, the VP of E-Commerce for the whole company, and Kristin Sebelle, the Director of E-Commerce, spearheaded the effort to find the right agency to work with and to make the site as interesting and innovative as possible.  We spent a lot of time doing user testing, to make sure we made something the customer could engage with that’s easy to shop.  And we came up with something amazing.

HL:  Brazil represents such a fast-growing market for fashion. Can you tell us a little bit about the decision to launch there?  What has the experience been like so far?

KA:  As we were developing this idea, we looked at international markets for potential.  We’re launching in Brazil and Japan, and both represent huge opportunities.  In Japan, we’ve been there almost as long as in the U.S., and we have a good solid base.  There were some specific real estate opportunities there, where a younger customer is shopping this kind of brand and store.  In Brazil, it’s the same thing, a younger customer is consuming this kind of brand at a high rate, but at this point for various reasons, there are not many international brands there at this level.  International brands are mostly coming in to Brazil at a luxury level.  We thought it was a great opportunity to come in as an American brand, and to distinguish ourselves from local names and make a difference.

HL:  Can you tell us more about those specific retail opportunities in Japan?

KA:  Well, we have a huge opportunity there since kate spade new york is so established there.  The real estate opportunity we sought out is in a specific kind of mall being built there, over major transit hubs.   These “fashion buildings” are created with smaller footprint stores, and with many more of them, because young women pass through on their way to work, grab things, and go get on the train.  There’s a huge amount of opportunity there, especially for a lower priced line.  The location wouldn’t make sense for the kate spade new york price point, but it’s a huge advantage for Saturday.

HL:  Is there anything else we need to know about Saturday?

KA:  One of the things everyone asks is whether it’s the same team as kate spade new york.  We’ve promoted Theresa Canning Zast, formerly the Director of Creative Marketing, to take over as Divisional Creative Director for both marketing and product at Saturday. She’s built an amazing, creative team to put this idea together.  We mostly hired new people to the brand, and they’ve done such an incredible job keeping to the spirit of kate spade new york but bringing a fresh, modern attitude to it.  The team has created a very creative, beautiful line that doesn’t look like anything out there, but has the vitality of kate spade.

Disclosure: kate spade new york and Kate Spade Saturday are owned by Fifth & Pacific Companies, Inc., the sponsor of this site.

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