Prada. Such is a company that presents on its website not a vision, but a Group Manifesto:
Pioneer of a philosophy of action that transcends fashion, the Prada Group inquisitively observes the contemporary society and its interactions with the most diverse and apparently distant cultural spheres.
A fluid perspective that becomes the manifesto of the Group suggesting a new approach to doing business by placing at the core of ethical and action principles essential values as freedom of creative expression, reinterpretation of the existent, preservation of know-how and valorization of people’s work.
It’s always a True Fashionista treat to get the story behind a name that has become synonymous with the luxury design lifestyle. It can put a whole new spin on that handbag you love, or shoes that make the outfit every time. Such is the case with the name and empire of Prada.
Founded in the Italian fashion capital Milan, Italy in 1913 by Mario and Martino Prada, it all began as a leather goods shop called Fratelli Prada, later renamed Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II. As that trusted source Wikipedia informs us, the brothers’ shop initially sold animal goods and imported English steamer trunks and handbags. The company also harbored a very old-world mindset from brother Mario, who didn’t think women had a place in business (IKR?). Therefore, female members of the family were not allowed to participate in the company. Ironically, his son had no interest, so daughter Luisa took over as his successor and ran the company for almost two decades before handing it to her own daughterMiuccia Prada in 1978. (So THERE, Mario! Lol) Along with husband Patrizio Bertelli, Muiccia runs the company today as chief executive officer and head designer of the Prada Group.
Interesting side note here: In true hipster fashion, Prada resists to this day the use of an obvious logo on its designs for fear of coming off as “snobby”. They choose instead to stand on the quality of True Fashionista workmanship and looks alone.
Along the way, as FashioninTime shares, Prada has made several innovations much to critical acclaim, quite often setting industry standards. One example happened soon after Miuccia joined the company with the development of a water-resistant nylon called “pocone”, that resembled precious silk. Pocone soon became so popular that it’s still used by all throughout the fashion world for accessories and clothing alike. In 1984 Prada used pocone in their now classic “Vela” Prada backpack. A few years later, with its distinctive metallic Prada seal (NOT a logo fyi), the Vela caught on with industry insiders and an It Bag was born.
Miuccia introduced Miu Miu, a secondary line based on her own wardrobe, in 1992 and the next year Prada expanded its vision with the creation of the Milano Prada Arte project to showcase provocative art, cinema, architecture and culture. This same year, they launched their menswear line featuring ready-to-wear, accessories and shoes.
As forward-thinking as ever in 1997, Miuccia introduced Prada Sport, and the world of athleisure was born, long before Lululemon lunged onto the scene. The same year, Prada expanded its interests into the world of sailing via Miuccia’s husband Patrizio Bertelli with the creation of the Prada Challende for the America’s Cup 2000 sailing team. The Luna Rossa Boat is entered, eventually winning the Challengers Selection series.
The 2000’s found Prada opening a Headquarters (now known as “Epicenters”) in New York City and beginning a fragrance line after forming an agreement with PUIG Beauty & Fashion Group. A second Epicenter soon followed in Tokyo, and when the third in Los Angeles debuted, with it was the Prada exhibition called “Waist Down”, showing off some of the most prominent skirts designed and created by the Prada Group. In 2007, Prada continued its forward motion with the launch of their Prada phone, which was also the first phone to have an entirely touch screen design. And you thought Apple did it first lol.
In 2015, Prada brought it all home to Milan, where the legacy began, opening the doors of Fondazione Prada in a former gin distillery dating back to 1910. Fondazione is a complex of reimagined buildings and architecture housing a nod to all specifications of art. In April 2018 Torre, the final part of the structure, opened to the public. This ode to art and architecture presents a world of possibilities where old meets new, fashion has a home as an art form, and a testament once again to the legacy of Prada as a True Fashionista innovator in not just handbags and sunglasses (and phones!) but art in its purest form.