Deborah Lloyd the Instantly Shoppable, Influencer-Driven Kate Spade New York Presentation

by Kristen Heinzinger

It’s been a fun, floral-filled 10 years for Deborah Lloyd as creative high priestess at Kate Spade New York. Shaking things up a bit this year, Lloyd presented an instantly shoppable collection at the Russian Tea Room and teamed up with a digital influencer to spread the word. Needless to say, this Brit is attracting the millennial girl in spades.

Kate Spade New York mixed things up this season!
We tried something new! We held two different sorts of presentations in one venue. It’s see-now, buy-now, wear-now. It was a classic fashion presentation, so Fall, where we show months in advance, but at the same time we showed Spring in a slightly different area and brought it to life for our customer. She could click and follow our digital influencer as she went about her daily life, interacting with us and showing all the new pieces for Spring.

Do you think you’ll continue with this model?
We’ll learn an awful lot from this. The world is changing, and how we talk to our customers is changing. We showed this collection to the long-lead press six months ago, so the build and buzz has been there, but now she can actually buy it.

Why did you choose the Russian Tea Room as the venue?
One of our “Miss Adventure” films was shot there, so it felt natural, but also it goes with the furs in our Fall collection. There’s a folkloric, almost eastern European moment in the air. I love the glitz and the glamour. It used to be an amazing meeting place for strong, interesting women. Gloria Steinem told me how much time she used to spend there. I loved this idea, with the moment that we’re sitting in today, about strong interesting women wanting their voices heard.

Do you have a favorite item off the menu?
Oh, caviar, of course! [Laughs]

You also streamed the show over Facebook Live.
Our popular digital influencer Victoria Justice played that role of the Kate Spade New York girl for us, and hosted a livestream video. People could follow her throughout her day, from when she woke up. As she arrived, it was like they were arriving. They could feel like they were part of our presentation, and the pieces she wore and the pieces that she was looking at were totally shoppable.

Is that something Kate Spade will embrace more, these social media, digital influencer girls?
I think it’s really important. We’re all learning as we’re going. If it’s hugely successful, we’ll keep on going with it.

Do you personally use a lot of social media?
I love Facebook, and Instagram is my favorite.

We know you love antiquing—have you scored any great pieces recently?
Oh, my goodness! There are some gorgeous vintage pieces I’ve been collecting. I found an incredible Russian embroidered cape, and I’m sure you’ll see the influence of it in the collection. I’m loving artisanal pottery pieces; I’ve been inspired on weekends to start pottery again! It’s my new Saturday hobby.

Maybe a Kate Spade New York pottery line?
Never say never!

Let’s talk campaigns: How do you choose who will appear in the “Miss Adventure” videos?
We’ve always gone for interesting women who aren’t just a pretty face. So they may be models, but they always have something else about them that attracts us to them. They’re all Kate Spade girls, but in very different ways—different ages, sizes, and from different parts of the world. For Spring, we love our new girl Fernanda Ly. Fernanda has pink hair, and immediately I was like, I love this lady. We had her on the streets of New York with a real camel, and it was a New York love story; those two got on extremely well.

A real camel on the streets of New York?

This is not Photoshop; this actually happened. This was the most well-behaved camel I have ever met. He was absolutely gorgeous, so fluffy and lovely. We worked with him the whole day, and he had his regular three breaks. It really brought a moment of joy to everyone who saw him. It was really hard filming because it was on the local news and people were hearing about it. All these people were coming to watch! But it’s New York City—there were some other people who walked right on by and didn’t even notice!

Where did the idea for “Miss Adventure” start?
This idea actually came about from talking about the Kate Spade girl. A lot of people think she’s perfect, but she’s not. Many of us think everything is going swimmingly in our lives, and then something really strange or stupid happens. How a person deals with that is the telltale sign of their personality. Each of our films has a little bit of a message, where we turn a negative into a positive.

Did you expect it to be such a hit with your customers?
I always thought it would, because when I was growing up, some of the most amazing adverts on television were things that had a story. You had to keep watching them. It really captured my imagination.

Do you have a favorite one?
It’s hard; I like them all. I like the stories, whether it’s the original one with Anna Kendrick or what Zosia Mamet brought to it and her repartee. I like the fact that it evolves and it doesn’t stay the same.

What’s it like to work with Anna and Zosia?
Anna is always funny and witty—those facial expressions! Sometimes, the outtakes are the best ones. And Zosia is really funny, too. We always have a laugh with her. I’ll wear the skirts longer, longer, longer, and she wants everything shorter, shorter, shorter. She’s such a comedian. Her sense of humor! You never know what’s coming.

What’s your sense of humor like?
It’s very British; it’s a little dry sometimes, but I love to laugh. I believe strongly that work should be fun.

There are so many categories; are there any plans to introduce more that you can discuss?
We have a lot going on at the moment. I think it’s really important to look at all the things that we do and do them better as our customer’s life changes. It’s the constant evolution of what we do that makes us modern.

You’ve done many collaborations in the past. Will you continue to do more?
I think we’ll always do collaborations. We did Miss Piggy; we’ve done Beyond Yoga on the athleisure side. It’s nice to pair up with experts in a field or with people with a specific point of view or voice. We just worked with Williams-Sonoma on a collaboration for the home, which we really love, too.

Where do you see lifestyle brands going?
At the center of a lifestyle brand is having an incredibly strong brand, so that your customer can give you permission to explore beyond what they normally would buy from you. Kate Spade started with the perfect black handbag, which filled a gap in our woman’s life. We’ve become what we’ve become by really connecting with our customer. And I think that’s the important thing—meaning something to your customer.

How has Kate Spade New York grown over the years?
Enormously. We can spot our girl whether she’s a 15-year-old or a 95-year-old, like Iris Apfel. It’s about capturing her imagination. We’ve grown in size and in product categories we offer, but we’ve stayed true to ourselves.

How do you divide your attention among all the categories?
[Laughs] I have an amazing team that I’ve built over the years. They can finish my sentences for me, and that allows me to be in two places at once.

How are the dogs?
Lulu and Stanley! Lulu loves the snow. She’s been upstate a lot recently. My husband sent me a video of her playing outside, and Stan is looking at her through the window thinking, “You stupid girl!” He hates getting his paws wet, but she loves it. She’s a true Kate Spade dog!

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