Prada – the Italian fashion house success story

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Prada is associated with refinement and luxury. Careful observation and curiosity about the world, society and culture are the core values of the brand.

Founded in 1913 by Maria Prada, it began as a leather goods store in Milan, then known as Fratelli Prada. Like other famous European leather houses of the time, the company took to manufacturing suitcases and packing trunks for the growing travel market

History of the brand

In 1919, just six years after its founding, Prada became a supplier to the Italian royal family. Unfortunately, after Maria Prada’s death in 1952, the company began to decline due to the lack of a clear heir. By the 1970s, the fashion house was literally on the brink of bankruptcy. The situation changed when Prada’s granddaughter Miuccia took the helm in 1978

Originally an aspiring politician, Miuccia earned a doctorate in political science from the University of Milan. She adhered to a strong left-wing feminist ideology and was a member of the Italian Communist Party. She worked briefly as a political scientist before joining the family business. Patrizio Bertelli, a leather goods salesman whom Miuccia met at a fair, offered Fratelli Prada fakes. Bertelli eventually became Miuccia’s husband and business partner. She brought a modern, feminine nature to Prada, and he helped aggressively grow the company. When the couple joined forces, sales skyrocketed.

Nylon bags – a big change

In 1984, Prada opted for a more modern aesthetic and released a nylon, waterproof bag. It attracted attention for its durability, careful craftsmanship and beautiful design. Prada became known for its cool, sophisticated elegance in direct contrast to the glitter-filled, sexy 1980s. In the 1990s, the brand was associated with chic and luxury.

Today, Miuccia Prada is the creative director and the brand offers exclusive clothing and accessories. It is remarkable that in 40 years Prada has grown from a family-owned luxury leather goods company to a billion-dollar global brand. It targets ambitious, modern, independent and elegant women with its collection

A turning point in Prada’s history

A turning point in the brand’s history occurred in the late 1970s, when Miuccia Prada partnered with Tuscan entrepreneur Patrizio Bertelli to combine creativity with business acumen and lay the groundwork for further international expansion.

Bertelli created new opportunities in the luxury goods sector by introducing a business model based on direct, internal control of all processes and applying strict quality criteria throughout the production cycle. Miuccia Prada’s creative talent attracted the attention of experts from all corners of the world. She became famous for her innovative approach and unconventional view of society. She was able to predict and often influence new trends in fashion and design.

In 1977, Patrizio Bertelli obtained a license from Miuccia Prada for the exclusive production and distribution of the brand’s leather goods. In the following years, the two family businesses merged into one operation. In 1983, Prada opened a second store on Milan’s prestigious Via della Spiga – this street is one of the most important shopping destinations in Europe. The store presented a new brand image, combining traditional elements with modern, innovative architecture, revolutionizing and setting a new standard for luxury retail.

Women’s and men’s collection

In response to the growing recognition of Prada’s products, the leather gallery assortment was expanded with the first women’s footwear collection in 1979. The clothing offering first appeared in 1988 in Milan. At the same time, the brand began the process of internationalization, opening its first stores in New York and Madrid, followed by London, Paris and Tokyo.

In 1993, Prada made its debut in menswear, offering its first collection of clothing and footwear. That same year, Miuccia Prada founded a new brand, Miu Miu, created for sophisticated, stylish women who love to stay ahead of fashion trends. Today, Miu Miu offers women’s clothing, handbags, accessories, footwear, eyewear and perfume

Photo by Laura Chouette/Unsplash

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