Fashion + Mental Health 2020

The founder of Kate Spade passed away: We hold her happiness in our hands, but no one understands her sadness

On June 5, 2018, Kate Brosnahan Spade, the founder of the American luxury brand Kate Spade, committed suicide with a red scarf in her Manhattan’s apartment. At the time, her husband was in the next room.

The name “Kate Spade” has an extraordinary meaning for young girls. For most, Kate Spade is their first choice to buy a luxury handbag. However, most girls don’t know that when they purchased their first Kate Spade for themselves, the handbag had nothing to do with the founder, Kate Spade.

Because of a series of disturbances after the American clothing company Liz Claiborne Inc. acquired the brand in 2006, Kate Spade, the creative director at the time, and his husband Andy Spade as CEO both left the brand that they founded together in 1993.

Since then, Kate Spade quickly faded out of the fashion circle. For more than eight years, she did not personally design any work until 2015 when she launched a new brand, Frances Valentine, named after her daughter, focusing on handbags and shoes. At that time, Kate Spade said that she had played the role of mother and consumer during this eight-year “long vacation”, and she was excited about “returning to her job”.

Following her suicide, the question of why her role as a designer had been suspended for eight years was finally answered. After the incident, Kate Spade’s sister told reporters that Kate Spade has been suffering from depression and alcoholism for many years.

The brand that the founder has worked so hard to build, which abandoned them after growing up. This is a problem that many brand founders have encountered. When the equity had diluted, the management had gradually marginalised, and the decision-making power had been lost. A series of problems had appeared. Kate had sadly chose to leave the scene.

Since its establishment, Kate Spade has attracted people’s attention with its bright colors and girly design, creating a positive and youthful image. When people hear Kate Spade, they think of happy and carefree girls. However, the cruel thing is that Kate Spade, who brought color to countless girls’ girlhood, lost the ability to make herself happy after leaving the brand.

She started her business for the second time in 2015 and barely made an impact. Her first work, the fashionable and lightweight nylon printed bag, became an instant hit when it was launched. In 1996, she won the annual CFDA’s The Best Newcomer Award for Handbag Accessories Designer. She had only started her design career three years earlier. The vast gap has aggravated Kate’s condition. What is even sadder is that Kate has always refused to seek a formal way to treat her depression, because she is afraid that the spread of her condition will damage the “happy” image established by Kate Spade. Although she has been away from the brand for 12 years, and even though she had sold all the shares when she was forced to leave, the fact that the brand still kept her name was a shackle, and it put pressure on her later life and career.

People who have not experienced it personally will never understand why “bad mood” can actually become a disease. They just think, why can’t you control your emotions? Who in this world has no pressure? You are so hypocritical!

In fact, many people with depression often appear in an optimistic and positive way. They are called “smile depression patients.” This is why after many people commit suicide due to depression, people around them will burst out “I can’t tell at all, he is usually very cheerful” and so on.

Maintaining a cheerful and happy, positive image for a long time often accumulates many negative emotions that cannot be released. But in this stressful age, many people have to choose to put on a mask of a smirk, hide pain and tears, and pretend to live a happy life.

There is a famous joke about Chaplin. Chaplin went to see a doctor one day and said: “Doctor, I am terrible. I can’t feel a little bit of happiness, can you cure my disease?” The doctor said, “Why don’t you watch Chaplin’s movie? I promise you will be amused and laugh after watching it.” “But, doctor, I am Chaplin.” Speller, an American researcher on depression, pointed out that depression tends to attack the most ambitious, creative, and earnest people. Because they have a sensitive, fragile, and sincere heart, they cannot co-exist with the adult world’s lies and deceptions. Once they feel the cruelty and absurdity of reality, it is difficult to resolve the negative emotions that result from it and fall into infinite self-torture.

So, if you can, care more about the people around you. Pay attention to their emotional changes, give them more encouragement, be more patient, and accompany them more.

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