Prada (Est. 1913- ) In 1913, Mario Prada and his brother Martino established Prada in Milan. When it began, the company was named Fratelli Prada, which in Italian means Prada Brothers. The shop sold leather goods, imported English steamer trunks, and handbags.
Mario Prada did not believe women had a place in business and prevented female family members from entering the company. Mario’s son had no interest in the business and, though Mario may not have liked it, his daughter Luisa Prada succeeded him as head of Prada and ran it for almost twenty years. Her daughter, Miuccia Prada, joined the company in 1970 and eventually took over for her mother in 1978.
Today, Prada is one of the world’s most iconic, high-end fashion houses. Contemporary art and society inspire the collections that Miuccia designs. The Prada Group includes Prada Donna, Prada Uomo, and Miu. Previously owned lines Helmut Lang, Amy Fairclough, Ghee, and Jill Sander were sold in 2006.
More recently, a 45% stake of the Church & Company brand was sold to Equinox. Despite the relatively recent downsizing, the company has more than one hundred Prada stores worldwide.
The company is primarily known for distinctive products that include leather handbags, travel accessories, shoes, ready-to-wear, perfumes and other fashion accessories. After Miuccia took over the company’s leadership, she introduced her first set of backpacks and totes in 1979. They were made of a tough military spec black nylon that her grandfather had used as coverings for steamer trunks. They were not an immediate success but the lines did go on to become Miuccia’s first commercial hit.
In 1983, Prada opened a second boutique in the center of the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele in the heart of Milan’s shopping district on the site of the historic London House emporium run by Felice Bellini from 1870 to the 1960s. It was reminiscent of the original shop but its renovations boasted sleek and modern designs.
Miuccia’s next big release was a nylon tote. It was around this time that the house of Prada began expansion across continental Europe and opened locations in prominent shopping districts within Florence, Paris, Madrid, and New York City. A shoe line was released in 1984.
In 1985, the company introduced the classic Prada handbag that became an overnight sensation. Although practical and sturdy, its sleek lines and craftsmanship exuded an offhand aura of luxury that became the Prada signature.
Production of watches started in 2007 and was suspended in 2012. One of the watch models produced by Prada, the Prada Link, is compatible with bluetooth technology and can connect with the LG Prada II mobile phone
Each watch with the company’s brand boasts craftsmanship and style in Italian design. Plexi was the first watch collection by Prada. These exclusive watches with square cases used several colors. There are the bicolor (silver or gold) round dial in the center of the square case. The models were assembled using a Swiss movement resulting in high precision.
Prada watch collections include chronographs and multifunctional models. One model is a chronograph powered by solar energy. The case is made of titanium. The black or dark brown strap is produced from genuine, vintage Saffiano leather. There are chronograph counters at “3,” “6,” and “9.” The date aperture is located at “4.” The unique dial is encrusted with numerous solar batteries. To make the watch work perfectly, all that is required is that the batteries lie in the sun for a few hours once a month.
These chronographs were released in limited editions of 1,000 pieces with each watch having a unique code allowing it to receive exact time signals. The watch is neither wound nor set by hand it does it automatically. The smart model also takes into account the location of its owner and adjusts the local time accordingly.
There is also IWC for Prada which is not a Prada line of watches but a dual named dial in the style of old-fashioned ‘Retailer & Maker’ watches.
The Fellows website discussed this product with George Kern, CEO of IWC, who explained that the reason for the existence of this watch is simple: Patrizio Bertelli, the current owner of Prada, is a huge fan of IWC and asked them to do it. This was a few months before the Prada team was to compete in the America’s Cup Yacht Race and was good publicity for both brands. This was 2003 when IWC was fighting for brand recognition.
The Prada model is a version of the IWC GST chronograph with the small seconds dial removed to allow for both brand names to appear in a clean, uncluttered manner. The house colors of Prada – black, grey and red – are used in a manner that suggests the instrument dials of a Porsche. The design coupled with the limited production of 2000 pieces and the presence of the IWC name makes this ‘fashion’ watch a collector’s piece.
In 1992, the high fashion brand Miu, named for Miuccia’s nickname, was introduced. Miu caters to younger consumers and celebrities. Miu is a simpler line of clothing and evokes an image of high-end vintage items.
Currently Prada is considered one of the most influential clothing designers in the fashion industry. In 2007, Prada joined forces with cell phone maker LG Electronics to create the LG Prada (KE850) phone. It retailed for $800.
Prada has 9 boutiques and 3 epicenter/megastores in the U.S., with the 4th and most recently opened epicenter store in Boston. Epicenter stores are much larger than normal boutiques, carry more merchandise, and are spread out on numerous floors. U.S. Boutiques are located in New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Bal Harbour, Las Vegas, Waikiki, and Aspen. Worldwide Epicenters are also in New York, Beverly Hills, and Tokyo.
Celebrities known to wear Prada include Cameron Diaz, Salma Hayak, Maggie Gyllenhall, Eva Longoria, and Martina Hingis,
In 1993 Prada was awarded the Council of Fashion Designers of America award for accessories.