Henry Pajama Shirt
The term 'power couple' is up there with 'authentic' for being one of the most overused terms of 2016. But if Kate and Andy Spade are anything, they're both of those things to a tee. The American duo first met while at university in Arizona in the early ‘80s and were working at the same clothing store when 21-year-old Andy's beat-up car wouldn’t let him turn the key. Kate “from the Midwest” offered him a lift, the young students became best friends, and—not without a few hiccups along the way—life as a couple came to be.
Fast forward over 30 years, a near-teen daughter called Bea, and an internationally renowned brand built from the ground-up with a successful sale, and the New York-based duo are well into phase two of life together. After a break to focus on their family, Andy now splits his time between loungewear line Sleepy Jones and his design agency-come-marketing hub, Partners & Spade, (which is charged with the success of prescription eyewear brand Warby Parker and direct-to-consumer shaving kit Harry’s, amongst others), while Kate is dipping her toes back into fashion with a new range of bags and shoes called Frances Valentine. Each has a stake in the other’s brand, which are unified if only by their ability to straddle whimsy with quality product and commercial profitability without ever feeling trite.
This week on Semaine, the couple opens the doors to their Park Avenue home and explain what it takes to succeed at life when you’re joined at the heart and at the hip.
Semaine: How did you meet?
Andy: “Kate gave me a ride home over a three to six month period because I was broke and couldn’t afford to get my car fixed. At first we were really good friends and then we started dating. We were both at school and only 20 and 21. Kate graduated before me and we had plans to move to San Francisco, so she went to Europe while I finished up in Arizona. Then she flew back via New York and called me to say that she couldn’t make it to San Fran because she needed to work in Manhattan. She had a job at Conde Nast when I phoned to say that I wanted to come too. She was living with five girls in a tiny apartment, so we found a small one-bed on Canal Street and moved straight in.”
Semaine: What made you decide to sell your namesake company in 2007?
Kate: “We were presented with the perfect opportunity to leave. It’s not that it wasn’t fun anymore, but it had become so much and we wanted to focus on being a family with Bea. We had already sold part of it in 1999 to Neiman's and the situation came about to sell the rest. It felt like a sign and we haven't looked back once since.”
Semaine: How did the idea for Sleepy Jones and Frances Valentine come about?
Andy: “I really liked the idea of making pyjamas into clothing and I couldn't believe that no one else was doing it. I call the brand not quite ready-to-wear because you can sleep in the clothes that we make, but you can also wear them on the street.”
Kate: "As Bea got older though, I felt a little itch and the idea started for Frances Valentine. Elyce Arons, who was a partner at Kate Spade, and our former design director, Paola Venturi who’d been working at Prada, were both game and it just seemed like the perfect time to take the leap.”
Semaine: What do you most enjoy about building your new brands from the ground-up?
Kate: “That there’s much less pressure and we can let things happen organically. I was nervous because I felt like we had such a good go at accessories at Kate Spade and I didn’t want to go head-to-head with our namesake or step on its toes, but I love to design shoes and I love working with Paola, so it just feels like fun.”
Andy: “I love start-ups, so the most rewarding process for me has always been building companies from the ground-up. As soon as it gets huge, you’ve achieved the business goal, but you’re not as involved in the design process or all of the other fun bits.”
Semaine: What are your design processes and how do they differ?
Andy: “I usually go through all of my vintage archives and collection of patterns and am inspired by absolutely anything. I like to come up with conceptual ideas and then either my team or Kate tells me if it’s crazy. I’m an ideas man through and through and keep notebooks everywhere with half written thoughts. It drives everyone mad.”
Kate: “I’m the opposite. I like things to be organised and cannot work in a crazy environment at all. At Frances Valentine, Paola does the sketching and all of the technical parts and I’m responsible for the colour and materials. Andy comes up with fun concepts like a shoe heel inspired by a book!”
Semaine: What’s the key to balancing a happy working relationship with a steady home life?
Kate: “Time and patience. We've been together for over 30 years, so at this point it’s easy. Of course we argue—because who the hell doesn’t—but when it comes to creativity and our family we always find a way to agree.”
Andy: “I always joke that I’m ADD and she’s OCD, so we have a way of balancing each other out.”
Semaine: How easy is it to switch off from work?
Kate: “We both make an effort to be home for dinner every evening to spend time as a family with Bea. We’re pretty good at making after 6pm a work-free zone. I think as you grow, you adapt, and the things that are important to you are easy to make time for.”
Semaine: When did Park Avenue become home?
Kate: “We thought about having a family and I wanted to experience living in Woody Allen’s classic New York, which can only be found up here. We moved from a huge open loft to this space 16 years ago. If you asked us when we were younger where we would end up living, neither of us ever would have said the Upper East Side.”
Andy: “I was kicking people out of our stairwell in Tribeca and the thought of having a child there just didn’t appeal to me. I love the trees up here and I get the best of both worlds because my offices are downtown so I still go there every day.”
Semaine: How would you describe your approach to interior design?
Kate: “Non-specific. If we love something, it usually has to do with a certain kind of colour or material, so we put our home together piece by piece. Andy has always been very interested in furniture, so he takes more control in that area. Our friend and interior designer, Steven Sclaroff helped us decide where everything should go.”
Andy: “Not minimal! Kate loves to collect ashtrays, lighters, and cigarette boxes, even though neither of us smoke in the house. Over time, we’ve also amassed a lot of modern art which I think keeps our traditionally designed apartment from looking too old or stuffy.”
Semaine: Andy—what do you enjoy most about your work at Partners & Spade?
Andy: “I love that my partner, Anthony Sperduti and I get to connect with consumers in so many different ways. The process is different for every client that we work with, but we always try to balance the beauty of design with the practicalities of what consumers want. When we started with Warby Parker and Harry’s, they were both direct-to-consumer models, which is great for your margins and distribution, but doesn’t allow people to touch or feel. We helped them both create made-to-measure retail spaces that work for their customer’s specific needs.”
Semaine: What other projects do you have on the horizon?
Andy: “For years I’ve wanted to do a permanent space titled Indoors. The idea is that it would be a completely transparent media company with a curatorial board and brands could take over the space in any way. It would be a merging of two worlds—somewhere between shopping and an experience that’s tactile and fun. I’m also working on some ironic electronic cigarette ash trays.”
Semaine: And to both—what do you think is the best thing about pyjamas?
Kate: “That I can change into them as soon as 5.30pm hits. Even if friends come over at 5.45pm, I’ll greet them in pyjamas.”
Andy: “That they can be worn anywhere, anytime! Jean-Michel Basquiat and David Hockney used to paint in them and Plimpton used to walk around in boxers with a newspaper under his arm. All of the greats have worn pyjamas.”
To that end—slip into something more comfortable and prepare to enter Kate and Andy’s colorful, magical, and truly authentic Semaine.
By Elsa de Berker for Semaine.
Henry Pajama Shirt
Marcel pajama pant
Suede and leather slippers
Marina pajama shirt
Marina pajama pant
Women's lodge moccasin bootie
Beatrix metallic leather sandals
Breakfast delivery service
This Book Will Make You Sleep
Sleep Plus + Pillow Spray
Frank leather chelsea boot
Ana Silk Robe
Merino wool and cashmere sweater
Katy haircalf Mary Jane
How to Think Like an Entrepreneur
Solid white/navy towels
Toast and Egg Charms
White linen pillowcase Pleated
Striped wool-blend culottes
Inside their Park Avenue Home
An open fireplace, high ceilings, and lots of natural light were the criteria for the couple’s move from downtown to Park Avenue 16 years ago. With the help of interior designer, Steven Sclaroff they built each room piece-by-piece into the richly layered visions that you see today. “Generally speaking,” says Andy, “it’s not minimal.”
National City (2), 1996–2009
Vintage Peacock Wall Lights
Italian Mid-Century Yellow Striped Velvet Armchair, 1950s
Mali check cushion cover indigo
A History of Pictures: From the Cave to the Computer Screen
Kate confesses to being unable to cook, but she knows how to whip up a morning smoothie and is very grateful to her friend who provided the feast for the Semaine shoot. “We’ve never had such good-looking food in this house,” she laughs.
Mix garlic powder, onion powder, salt and pepper with olive oil. Rub into turkey all over.
Take one whole garlic, cut in half and put inside turkey seasoned with garlic powder and onion powder, salt and pepper.
Cover in foil over night. Preheat over to 400 degrees, then cook turkey at 375 degrees for 2-3 hours until golden brown.
Mix all the ingredients until they turn into a ball.
Put in refrigerator for 20 minutes, then roll. Add pumpkin mixture.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees, then lower to 375 and bake 40-45 minutes.
Peel and slice apples thinly, put all dry ingredients into sliced apples.
Mix all dry ingredients until it turns into a ball. Put in refrigerator for 15 minutes, then roll.
Add apple mixture. Preheat over to 375 degrees and bake 30-40 minutes.
Off the Wall
Kate loves nothing more than sitting in the Old Masters room at The Met, while Andy favours gallery hopping all over town. The walls of their home are filled with original works from David Hockney and Alice Neel and Andy loves ‘80s icons like Rene Ricard.
Diasec mounted c-print mounted on aluminium
50.2 x 40.0 cm
C-print on Kodak matte paper
45.7 x 34.7 cm
50.8 x 40.6 cm
Lithograph, signed and numbered in pencil
85.09 x 66.04 cm
Archival pigment print
30.48 x 22.86 cm
Archival pigment print
60.96 x 66.04 cm
Kate & Andy's Essentials
The couple have relied on the same essentials for many years. Kate is a slave to SPF 50 sunscreen, red nail polish, Oliver Goldsmith sunglasses and green tea. Andy swears by a uniform of Clark’s Desert Boots, Levi’s jeans, Rayban sunglasses and a single cup of coffee every day.
Repp Slim Tie
'Josephine' Swarovski crystal metallic leather flats
'Don't worry be sleepy' t-shirt
Marina pajama shirt
Dottie bow heel gold
From the classics to old soul, blues, and rock and roll, “every day we pick a different soundtrack,” explains Andy.
A day with Kate & Andy
Mornings beginning at 6.30am with a sharp lights out by 10pm. The perfect night in is dinner in pyjamas, watching Kate’s “creepy detective shows.”
Kate: “We start our day with me asking our daughter at 6.30 in the morning to please get out of bed. She doesn’t get up until 7am, so in the meantime I feed the dog and the fish, and get about halfway to dressed.”
Andy: “I get up, go to Starbucks, drop Bea off at school and then go for a run. After that, I love to sit with a notepad and just go over ideas. I keep journals everywhere.”
Kate: “I spend the rest of my morning organizing Bea’s life. Her schedule is crazy, but I take a lot of pleasure in booking her tennis lessons, doctor’s appointments, and play-dates. Usually somewhere in between all of this, I Skype with Paola and we hash out what needs doing for Frances Valentine.”
Andy: “Every day is different for me and I have three offices, so am rarely in the same place for long. Generally speaking, I start my day at Partner and Spade and spend around two hours in creative meetings. Then I head over to Sleepy Jones and go over the agenda for the day.”
Kate: “If I’ve gone to the office, I usually try to leave by 3pm, so I can pick up Bea. We like to go to the Lexington Candy Shop on our way home. It’s a really old school diner with classic American flare.”
Andy: “Often I’ll take meetings somewhere downtown. I don’t love to do formal lunches, so I’ll often arrange to meet somewhere easy like The Smile or The Bowery, where it’s easy to have a quick bite.”
Kate: “By 5.30pm, I’m in my pyjamas, watching Law & Order. It’s horribly creepy, but Bea loves it too.”
Kate: “We all try to make a conscious effort to be home by 6pm so that we can all have dinner together around the table. I wouldn’t say that it always happens, but at least four days a week it’s guaranteed.”
Kate: “We don’t really work much in the evening and we rarely go out, so we’ll often just read, scroll through Instagram or watch a detective show in bed. Lights out by 10pm at the latest.”
Margot haircalf slingback
A Load of Jargon ‘Nuggets Of Wisdom’ Notebook A5
Goldfish Pellet Foil Pouch
Henry Pajama shirt plaid
Marcel pajama pant flannel plaid red & navy
Aspen fur boots