(Corrects spelling of "ThreadUP" to "thredUP" in second to last paragraph)
By Melissa Fares
NEW YORK, June 9 (Reuters) - The unexpected death of fashion designer Kate Spade on Tuesday has shoppers rushing to buy her brightly colored handbags, raising prices of used merchandise several times over, second-hand online retailers said.
Online fashion market Tradesy saw a sextupling of average prices, a doubling of supply and an 800 percent increase in purchases for Kate Spade handbags on the day of her death. Bags that had sold for $50 the previous week fetched $300 on June 5, in line with new bags.
"Whenever an artist of any kind passes, it's a common thing that you see both demand for their products increase and average price also increase," said Kamini Lane, chief marketing officer of the Santa Monica-based company. "But I've never seen a jump this significant before."
The 55-year-old designer, who with her husband built a fashion empire on the popularity of affordable luxury, was found dead in her New York City apartment on Tuesday in an apparent suicide.
Lane recalled that when the high-end couture designer Azzedine Alaia, who dressed stars from Greta Garbo to Grace Jones and Lady Gaga, died last November, the platform saw a spike in the sale of Alaia items, but it was nowhere close to the story of Spade.
"Kate Spade was so accessible to so many people and therefore desired by a broader base," she said, adding that after Spade's death the platform was selling "hundreds of items a day."
Kate Spade's brightly colored, clean-lined accessories and bags offered a spunky style to younger working women at a time when luxury handbags were out of reach of most consumers and the industry was dominated by venerable European brands.
Kate and her husband Andy Spade sold their last stake in the Kate Spade accessories brand in 2006 and in 2016 launched a new footwear and accessories brand called Frances Valentine, named after their daughter.
Last month high-end handbag maker Tapestry Inc, which bought the Kate Spade brand a year ago, said that sales at established stores were disappointing because of a reduction in discounting of new bags, which cost around $200 to $300.
Tapestry was not immediately available for comment.
Online thrift store thredUP said it had sold three times as many Kate Spade items on Tuesday, the day she died, than on Monday.
Items with the Kate Spade logo, primarily bags, were most in demand, with users buying more than 3 times as many Kate Spade handbags the day of and day after Spade's death, when compared against the three month trailing average for Tuesdays and Wednesdays, the company said. (Reporting by Melissa Fares in New York Editing by Peter Henderson)