USA. Tributes from all over the world are pouring in for American fashion designer Kate Spade, who was tragically found dead in her New York home yesterday (5 June).

In a statement, Vogue Editor-in-Chief and Condé Nast Artistic Director Anna Wintour said: “Kate Spade had an enviable gift for understanding exactly what women the world over wanted to carry. She launched her label at a time when everyone thought that the definition of a handbag was strictly European, all decades-old serious status and wealth. Then along came this thoroughly American young woman who changed everything.

“There was a moment when you couldn’t walk a block in New York without seeing one of her bags, which were just like her; colourful and unpretentious. Kate designed with great charm and humour, and built a global empire that reflected exactly who she was and how she lived. Long before we talked about authenticity, she defined it.”

Tributes from China, where Kate Spade has long been popular, have flooded social media. According to Moodie Davitt content partner Jing Daily, Weibo users commented on the pressures of running a luxury business. Others expressed concern over the fate of Kate Spade’s China stores.

A 2015 Bloomberg report 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.

Celebrities including Reese Witherspoon and Bette Midler also paid tribute to Spade and her work.

Witherspoon said Spade was a “wonderful, talented woman who will be dearly missed”.

Spade founded the Kate Spade Handbags brand in 1993 and soon after opened a small boutique in SoHo, Manhattan. Her husband became her partner and over the years the business expanded internationally. Spade sold her namesake brand in 2007 and it was bought last year by Coach in a deal worth US$2.4 billion.

The Kate Spade brand is available in travel retail globally.