Big brands and their origins – PRADA

Proud owner. Prada.

I admit that I like a label. Its not that I am a brand-baby by any stretch but I do like something that comes with a bit of heritage. A bit of a legacy that means years, or centuries even, of thoughtfulness, design and beauty have been applied into the culmination of the product I am purchasing. It makes me feel like I am paying for more than the actual product, but I am also getting a piece of art almost. Stop me if I am sounding poncy here but brands like Ferrari, Maserati and as this article refers to, Prada, ignite a part of the brain that knows quality and is drawn to beauty and design.

But I realized the other day, while collecting a pair of Prada Sunglasses from Sunglass Hut that I no idea about the brand I was purchasing. I know the name, I have seen the adverts and drool that tends to flood from people lusting after their products but I didn’t have a clue where the brand originates from. So here is a bit about them so that you too have at least a background education to the house of…Prada…
I possibly wouldn’t have been bothered to look up this fashion dynasty had it not been for the attention detail the sunglasses received from presentation to actually donning them. The black Prada presentation box was a thing of beauty all in its own – and I hadn’t actually even got to the carry-case or the sunglasses yet. Opening up the sunglasses was almost like undoing a Faberge egg, layers of exquisiteness until finally getting to the treasure inside. I am gushing here but genuinely i have seldom seen such attention being given to the packaging of a product that made me feel that someone had paid a lot of attention to the fact that if you are paying for quality, then that should be felt and seen from the get go. It made me feel good and it made me feel as though I was tapping into the heritage – this was a unique product, which had been uniquely crafted and presented and it showed.

Very obviously I borrowed this from wikipedia but it does save you having to google it yourself!

The company was started in 1913 by Mario Prada and his brother Martino as a leathergoods shop – Fratelli Prada (English: Prada Brothers) – in Milan, Italy.[1][2] Initially, the shop sold leather goods and imported English steamer trunks and handbags.

Mario Prada did not believe that women should have a role in business, and so he prevented female family members from entering into his company. Ironically, Mario’s son harbored no interest in the business, so it was his daughter Luisa Prada who took the helm of Prada as his successor, and ran it for almost twenty years. Her own daughter,Miuccia Prada, joined the company in 1970, eventually taking over for her mother in 1978.

Miuccia began making waterproof backpacks out of Pocone. She met Patrizio Bertelli in 1977, an Italian who had begun his own leathergoods business at the age of 17, and he joined the company soon after. He advised Miuccia—and she followed the advice—on better decisions for the Prada company. It was his advice to discontinue importing English goods and to change the existing luggage styles.

Prada’s ascent into high-fashion

Miuccia inherited the company in 1978 by which time sales were up to U.S. $450,000. With Bertelli alongside her as business manager, Miuccia was allowed time to implement her creativity onto design.She would go on to incorporate her ideas into the house of Prada that would change it.
She released her first set of backpacks and totes in 1979. They were made out of a tough military spec black nylon that her grandfather had used as coverings for steamer trunks. Initial success was not instant, as they were hard to sell due to the lack of advertising and high-prices, but the lines would go on to become her first commercial hit.
Next, Miuccia and Bertelli sought out wholesale accounts for the bags in upscale department stores and boutiques worldwide. In 1983, Prada opened a second boutique in Milan reminiscent to the original shop, but with a sleek and modern contrast to it. It was opened in the shopping district of Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II.

The next year, Prada released its definitive black nylon tote. That same year, the house of Prada began expansion across continental Europe by opening locations in prominent shopping districts within Florence, Paris, Madrid, and New York City. A shoe line was also released in 1984. In 1985, Miuccia released the “classic Prada handbag” that became an overnight sensation amongst the affluent and fashionable. Although practical and sturdy, its sleek lines and craftsmanship exuded an offhand aura of luxury that has become the Prada signature.

In 1987, Miuccia and Bertelli married. Prada launched its women’s ready-to-wear collection in 1989, and the designs came to be known for their dropped waistlines and narrow belts. Prada’s popularity skyrocketed when the fashion world took notice of its clean lines, opulent fabrics, and basic colors.
Time described the apparel as “unassertive, combining traditional good manners and an ultramodern industrial sleekness.” Truly, the designs to come out of the House of Prada reflected the feminine worker aesthetic, which made it quite unique in contrast to other high-fashion brands. It would be identified with affluent working women who held demanding jobs.” Thus, it is no surprise that Miuccia took it upon herself to call her women’s bags “uniforms.”

The logo for the label was not as obvious a design element as those on bags from other prominent luxury brands such as Louis Vuitton. Its appeal, including the apparel, was its image of “anti-status” or “reverse snobbery.”


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