kate-spade.jpgIf you’re been holiday shopping already this year, chances are you’ve heard the name Kate Spade—whether from one of the brand’s recent collaborations or because you’ve seen their name slowly popping up on every style-conscious student’s wishlist across the nation. Here’s a primer on what happens when the fashion and tech worlds collide. (Spoiler alert: it’s pretty awesome.)

 

Kate Spade: about the brand

 

Started by former fashion editor Kate Brosnahan Spade herself (born Katherine Noel Brosnahan, which definitely wouldn’t have made as cool of a company name), the Kate Spade fashion brand was founded in 1993 and has been growing in popularity ever since. They currently make everything from bedding to shoes, and are even doing a pretty high-profile holiday collaboration with Gap Kids this season. The crown jewel of the line, however, has always been their handbag selection — and with handbags come the small accessories, like iPhone cases and laptop sleeves.

 

DSC00671.JPGFor the fashion-oblivious, however, here’s what you need to know: Kate Spade is known for their clean, preppy designs; their bright colours inscribed with happy slogans (“Live Colorfully!”); and their simple silhouettes. It gives the line a unique appeal, with fans in everywhere from post-grad chemistry labs to public relations head offices.

 

Why choose Kate Spade?

 

I had the chance to try out four different Kate Spade products for this review, and all four of them are great reasons to choose Kate Spade over other tech companies’ cases. For starters, the Kate Spade line is seriously fashion-forward — these are items that really would look just as at-home on your college student’s desk as they would in the front row of a fashion show.

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In particular, I was really taken with the vegan Saffiano leather Apple cases in the Kate Spade line. Traditional Saffiano leather is made by stamping the leather with a very fine cross-hatch design and following it up with a wax treatment, which makes for extremely distinctive, durable pieces. While I wasn’t able to test the Kate Spade vegan version extensively enough to confirm this (a good Saffiano leather will hold up for years), these pieces felt far more durable than my current Incase Neoprene Sleeves — the Kate Spade Macbook Sleeve, for instance (pictured here in Blue and Black, 15”) is softly lined with felt but has a sturdy, water-repellant outside.

 

Likewise, the Kate Spade iPad Air Folio Case in Blue is sturdy enough to protect your screen in case of drops, but I’d be careful with the back side if you want to keep it scuff-free — the soft finish, while it’ll definitely hold up over time, shows scratches and scuffs quite prominently. However, the case isn’t without its perks: not only is it almost painfully chic (that blue!), it comes with a handy fold-out backrest that can be used to prop your iPad Air up both vertically and horizontally.

 

Kate Spade also make a great iPad Air Snap-On Case in a black/cream stripe lined in bright pink (and yes, the pink is discreetly visible once you snap your iPad in), which has definite appeal for the college crowd. Its slim profile covers only the back of your iPad, so make sure to pair it with a screen protector, like the Phantom Glass iPad Air Screen Protect. (I personally am not a big fan of hard-shell cases; while they’re definitely nicer to hold and easier to carry around, they provide less cushioning in case of drops. Opt for a soft case if you’re clumsy or if you’re buying for someone who is; while Kate Spade’s plastic shell seems to be quite well-made, hard cases are typically a lot easier to shatter than metal or cushioned ones!)

 

DSC00685.JPGOverall, I was quite impressed by the selection of Kate Spade items that I tried out — and that’s coming from someone who took more than five weeks to find the perfect iPhone case. (It’s metal and silicone; I kept breaking the plastic ones.) What really sets Kate Spade tech accessories apart from the crowd is their clean, feminine aesthetic, I think; they’re all very distinctive and stylish, with a few designs that will even appeal to men. Unless you’re getting a shock-absorbent or waterproof case, the technology behind them is pretty much the same, so what it really comes down to is style — and Kate has that in Spades.

 

Plus, if that’s not enough to sell you on Kate Spade: have you seen their packaging? Because those hard shell cases practically come already-wrapped; their red-and-green box is rimmed with a gold stripe that feels strangely, surprisingly festive.

 

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Kate Spade can cover…

 

In addition to the cases you see in this post, Best Buy also carries Kate Spade covers for your iPhone 5/5s/6/6 Plus, iPad Mini, and Surface Pro 3.  You can also find super-cool Kate Spade portable chargers that can give a battery boost to pretty much any smartphone.

 

About the size of a pack of cards, the Kate Spade Diagonal Stripe Portable Charger would make the ideal gift for any girl on the go: super slim (1 cm) and incredibly chic, it charges via USB output and fits neatly into your handbag for battery emergencies both during the workday and out at night.