News broke today that designer Kate Spade, 55, was found dead in her Manhattan apartment. Despite the late hour in China, support for the well-loved fashion icon has begun pouring out on Chinese social media.
Det. Sophia Mason, a spokeswoman for the NYPD, confirmed to press today that Spade was found dead of an apparent hanging at her Park Avenue address in New York City, just after 10:30 a.m. Detectives are still on the scene.
Kate Spade has long been popular amongst China's fashion fans. Online today, one nostalgic Weibo user said, "I got my very first bag costing over 2000RMB from this brand." Other Chinese netizens are expressing their love for the designer, commenting, "I love Kate Spade. This is so upsetting to hear" and "She will be missed by so many. Rest in peace."
Other users commented on the pressures of running a luxury business, saying, "It's really sad to hear about the founder of a luxury brand in this way" and "I really love her designs. Not too many understand the pressures a designer is under. I hope she rests in peace."
Netizens are already concerned over the fate of Kate Spade's China stores, as one Weibo user comments, "I love their bags, is their retail store going to close?" Kate Spade has stores at some of China's most prestigious shopping locations, including Plaza 66 in Shanghai and Sanlitun in Beijing. According to another internet fan, "Kate Spade's bags look much better than others at a similar level of accessible luxury."
In a report by Bloomberg in 2015, Leavitt said China would be the most important source for Kate Spade's revenue growth going forward, which made it imperative to build a larger presence in that market. Last year, American accessories designer Coach acquired rival Kate Spade for 2.4 billion dollars, after pushing forward into the Chinese market by selling on messaging app WeChat.
Additional reporting by Ruonan Zheng