Prada is an Italian luxury fashion house that specializes in manufacturing and selling handbags, travel accessories, shoes, perfumes, and other ready to go accessories. Mario Prada founded it in 1913. Today, Prada stands as one of the most famous and prominent luxury fashion house brands. It directly competes with Gucci, Louis Viton, Versace, and Saint Laurent, etc. Over time, it was able to cast its shadow over Hollywood as well, which was a significant breakthrough for its rising popularity. Let us take an exclusive look inside the fashion giant and see where it stands today.
Founding of Prada
Prada was founded by Maria Prada and his brother Martino in 1913. Initially, it was a shop that sold leather goods by the name of Fratelli Prada in Milan, Italy. In the beginning, the shop sold animal goods and imported English handbags and steamer trunks. Mario Prada’s mindset regarding women and their role in the business was quite different. He believed that women did not have any role in business and, therefore, did not allow any females from his family to take part in the business.
However, there was a change in fate. Mario’s son was not interested in the business; therefore, his daughter Luisa Prada took over the company and successfully ran for 20 years. Then her daughter Miuccia Prada joined the company and took charge of it for her mother in 1978.
Miuccia initiated her own idea by making waterproof backpacks out of Pocone, a nylon fabric. During that time, she met Patrizio Bertelli in 1977, who was 24 at the time and had begun his own leather goods business. After joining the company, Bertelli used to offer advice to Miuccia, which she followed. One of them was to stop the import of English goods and to change the existing luggage.
Prada on the rise
When Miuccia inherited the company, its sales were up to the U.S. $450,000. With Bertelli to her side, who was accompanying her as a business manager, Miuccia was provided time to implement her creative ideas.
In 1979, she released the very first set of totes and backpacks. They were made out of tough military material. However, the instant success was not that instant. The very first set was hard to sell because Prada did not think of advertising and marketing.
Next, Bertelli and Miuccia sought out wholesale accounts for bags in boutiques and upscale department stores worldwide. The year 1983 saw Prada opening its second boutique in the center of Galleria Vittorio Emanuele in the shopping heart of Milan.
The next big release was nylon tote by Prada. At the same time, Prada was expanding its reach to countries like the United States and Europe in prominent shopping districts such as Paris, Florence, Madrid, and New York City. Then in 1984, a shoe line was released, followed by the ‘Classic Prada Handbag’ introduced by Miuccia in 1985, which went to become an overnight sensation.
In 1987 Miuccia and Bertelli married. Prada then launched its women’s ready to wear collection in 1989. The designs of these ready to wear collections would provide a signature look to Prada fashion statement. This signature would ultimately become the identification of the Prada. It was known for its opulent fabrics, clean lines, and basic colors. Furthermore, Prada tried marketing its products, including apparel as ‘anti-status,’ which was the opposite of what brands like Louis Vuitton were projecting at the time.
The years beginning in 1990 were big for Prada. It had become one of the most influential fashion houses and a prominent status symbol. In 1998, the sales were reported to be around the U.S. $ 31.7 million. Patrizio di Marco undertook the responsibility of the growing business in the United States after working for the house in Asia. His goal was to gather the attention of fashion editors and, therefore, starting displaying them in department stores. Prada was growing and that too with speed. The reason behind that was Prada’s ‘Working Class’ theme. In fact, Ginia Bellafante, over from the New York Times, voiced her opinion and proclaimed that Prada “was becoming chic in the high-tech, IPO-driven early 1990s’.
Then in 1992, high fashion brand Miu Miu was launched by Prada, which was actually the nickname of Miuccia. Miu Miu targeted young customers, such as celebrities. By 1993, Prada had won the Council of Fashion Designers of America award for its accessories. Until 1999, Bertelli wound engage himself in several acquisitions and succeeded in making Prada a giant. Some of the most prominent brands it acquired were Fendi, which was not financially operating well. He purchased shares of Gucci and made Prada one of the biggest shareholders of Gucci. At the same time, when everything was in favor of Prada, there was one thing that wasn’t, debt.
The year 2000s were a bit slow for Prada. The spending of customers had slowed down in the United States, Japan, and Europe in 2000. In order to pay the outstanding $850 million debt, the company had decided to list 30% of its stocks on the Milan Stock Exchange in June 2001. Under the pressure of the bankers, Bertelli sold all of Prada’s shares in Fendi to LVHM, which valued around the U.S. $295 million.
Furthermore, Prada got quite a bit of infamous coverage during its fashion show held on September 23, 2008, in Milan. The reason being that the models were tottering, and even several of them stumbled. One of the models turned around halfway through the walk because she could not carry on with high heels. Miuccia Prada explained that although she would introduce shoes with lower heels, it was not the high heels that resulted in models from stumbling. Instead, it was the little silk socks inside that were allowing the feet to movie inside and did not offer a good grip.
According to Fortune, Bartelli aimed to increase the company’s revenue to $5 billion by 2010. Prada was the main buyer of a Turkish leather factory DESA. The Supreme Court found the company guilty of dismissing its workers who had joined a union. The Clean Clothes Campaign then called on Prada to make sure that the freedom of association is practiced at the factory. On January 30, 2013, the Clean Clothes Campaign reported that ‘Trade Union Harassment Continues at Prada Supplier.’
By 2015, Prada’s turnover was just 1% up from 2014, while its gross operating profit fell by 16.5%. However, things turned positive in March 2018 when Prada took certain steps to boost its sales. The most important step was implemented in July 2016 when Prada, for the first time, became available online to be purchased through My Theresa and Net-a-Porter. Now, Prada was looking at their stocks that had jumped by 14%.
Interesting facts about Prada
The Devil Wears Prada
Prada was famously highlighted in the movie “The Devil Wears Prada,” starring Anne Hathaway and Meryl Streep. The film revolved around Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour. Even though the movie depicted a powerful magazine editor with disparaging demands often, Anna did not respond negatively. She instead attended the special premiere in New York, wearing Prada.
Prada’s Understated Elegance
You will hardly come across a Prada product, which has its logo on it. The reason is that the brand has always understated its status and elegance. It believes that those who are well-aware of the fashion statement and are into fashion will be able to recognize it by its signature looks and color combinations etc.
Prada’s rising success is no surprise. With the likes of Miuccia, who loves to experiment and Bertelli, who is known for being a notorious businessperson, things seem promising for Prada. It has fought back its place in the fashion world and now operates through 319 stores worldwide. Today, it stands as a fashion giant who has the eyes of the world towards it whenever it is about to come up with its new collections.