THE EVOLUTION OF PRADA
Prada was founded in Milan, Italy by Mario Prada in 1913. He opened his first store, under the name Fratelli Prada (Prada Brother’s) in the prestigious Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II selling luxury leather items such as precious bags, trunks, and travel accessories. Prada then became the official supplier to the royal house in 1919, laying down a solid foundation for the prestigious reputation Prada would hold – making it a brand synonymous with the elite.
Mario Prada passed in 1958 and his daughter Luisa took the helm and changed the name to just ‘Prada’ – as we know it today. Luisa kept the Prada business going strong and continued to make luxury handbags and fashion accessories before she was ready to hand over the business to her youngest daughter, Maria Bianchi or better known today as Miuccia Prada. Now, this is where things get exciting! Miuccia, alongside her business partner Patrizio Bertelli, became the driving force behind the transformation of the brand and took the business to new heights – making it one of the world’s biggest fashion hitters.
A year after taking the reins, Miuccia decided to onboard Patrizio Bertelli as her business manager. She had met Bertelli previously, through his own leather goods company, and his impressive business acumen alongside his knowledge of merchandising within the luxury fashion industry made him the perfect candidate for the role – making him and Miuccia a force to be reckoned with.
Miuccia’s main role initially was focused on designing the accessories for Prada. Her first designs were a set of backpacks and totes – the nylon ‘Vela’ bag being one of them. To transform nylon, a waterproof, durable fabric into something high-fashion and sleek alongside the understated triangular logo was avant-garde and the antithesis of the logo-heavy items of the time. Highlighting her trailblazing talents that would set Prada apart in the coming years.
Prada started to focus on the aesthetic of the house and the light green colour which is now known as ‘Prada green’ came to life – the signature colour of the Prada stores. Bertelli started focusing on retail expansion and by 1983 Prada has opened its doors to its first directly-owned ‘green store’ in Milan in Via della Spiga followed by boutiques in New York, Madrid, London, Paris, and Tokyo. Prada also diversified their product line by offering footwear in 1979 before expanding into womenswear and making its catwalk debut in 1988. Bertelli was also hugely successful in securing wholesale accounts with prestigious department stores and by the mid-1980s Prada had expanded into multiple retail spaces as well as having their own, resulting in large-scale brand awareness.
Throughout the 90’s and 2000’s Prada continued to focus on retail expansion starting with Asia – specifically China and Japan alongside the USA. Alongside the retail expansion of Prada, they also expanded their products lines. In 1993 Menswear was first introduced and in 2000 eyewear was introduced and in 2004 perfume. In 2002 Prada opened their headquarters in New York on 51st street designed by award-winning interior designers before becoming publicly listed on the Hong Kong stock exchange in 2011 raising approximately HK$16.7 billion. The public listing of the company allowed Bertelli to continue his brand’s expansion in emerging markets, confirming 70 to 80 new store openings at the Prada Group’s 2013 annual general meeting. Thus, Prada was well equipped financially to continue their domination within the fashion industry and Miuccia had the creative talent to keep them there.
In recent years Prada has continued to be a powerhouse in the fashion industry and creating global trends is the norm. Prada announced in 2021 that Raf Simons would be co-creative director, alongside Miuccia which is a revolutionary partnership that goes against the singularity normally associated with creative directorships. Prada explained the partnership like this:
“As times change, so should creativity. The synergy of this partnership is far-reaching. It is a reaction to the era in which we live – an epoch with fresh possibilities, permitting a different point of view and approach to established methodologies.”
There is no doubt this partnership will challenge the status quo and continue to pave the way creatively for high fashion brands. We can’t wait to see what they do next!
THE EVOLUTION OF MIU MIU
Miu Miu was born in 1993, founded by Miuccia Prada herself. Miu Miu is Miuccia’s nickname, which was why she coined the name for her own fashion brand– showing her intimate relationship with Miu Miu from the start. The use of her nickname also pays homage to the more youthful element Miu Miu possesses. The brand was initially positioned as the secondary line of Prada that was rich in accessories and ‘anti-fashion’ in its style. However, that swiftly changed and Miu Miu has aggressively separated itself from Prada and is very much recognised as its own, stand-alone brand.
The first store opened in 1993 at the Via della Spiga in Milan and three years later Miu Miu had their first runway debut at New York Fashion Week with Kate Moss selected as the star of the show – creating a huge buzz for the brand. Miu Miu stands apart from Prada stylistically due to its daring designs, bold fabrics and bright colours. Prada told Women’s Wear Daily, “When I am working on Miu Miu, [it] has to come immediately, instinctively, spontaneously, with whatever is available at the moment. If I think three times, I stop. . . . Anything avant-garde, twisted, or challenge becomes part of my Miu Miu vision. In this sense, there is a bit more room for liberty.” This difference in design approach is reflected perfectly through Miu Miu’s contemporary designs – they are edgy, outlandish and push the boundaries.
After Miu Miu’s catwalk debut a string of campaigns that made media headlines followed. Celebrities were often the face of Mui Mui campaigns such as Lindsey Lohan, Chloë Sevigny and Drew Barrymore – and this tradition still continues today. The idea of driving home the message of quirkiness has also remained throughout the years, which made Miu Miu stand out from the crowd. As Miu Miu’s popularity grew, so did their profits and they started to make more distinct moves to further distance themselves from the Prada brand. In 2006, Miu Miu joined Paris Fashion Week which was seen as a bold move for an Italian fashion brand. They then took this one step further, by relocating their headquarters from Milan to Paris in 2013 to further mark their independence from Prada.
Miu Miu has only grown in popularity in recent years, especially through their triumphant use of social media, which has seen the brand become a trendsetter in the social media space. Miu Miu is no longer compared to Prada, rather it is its successful brand of its own that has managed to steal the hearts of the wealthy Gen-Z’s. Miu Miu’s successful social media campaigns and Insta-worthy shops have generated a new buzz for the brand which is focused on young, bold creatives who aren’t afraid to push the boundaries.
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