For Kate Spade, a Move Down-Market Goes Bust
In the fashion business, it seems, everybody wants to be Ralph Lauren. The company epitomizes the so-called aspirational lifestyle brand, able to book huge sales at premium prices for everything from clothing to furniture to dinnerware. Kate Spade, another designer-inspired company, dreamed of following that path. In 2008, it recruited Craig Leavitt, a Ralph Lauren executive, as its CEO. But while shoppers continue to fawn over its colorful totes, satchels and clutches — sales were up more than 40 percent in 2014 — the company is learning that creating a buzzy lifestyle brand is more difficult than it seems.