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Prada S.p.A. is an Italian fashion label designed by Mario Prada, specializing in luxury goods for men and women (ready-to-wear, leather accessories, shoes, and luggage and hats), founded by Mario Prada. The label is a status symbol. Like other brands, Prada battles counterfeiting, ensuring authenticity only from its official worldwide boutiques and online store.



The company was started by Fratelli Prada (''English:'' ''Prada Brothers'') and by Mario Prada in as a leathergoods shop in Milan, Italy. His shop sold leather goods and imported English steamer trunks and handbags. Fratelli Prada gained reputation. Mario Prada did not believe in women interaction within business, and so he prevented female family members from entering into his workshop. After his death in the mid-1950s, Mario's son harbored no interest in the business. So ironically, it was Mario's daughter-in-law who took the helm of Prada, and maintained it for almost twenty years. Her own daughter, Miuccia Prada, joined the company in 1970. 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 on. 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. US$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 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. Miuccia released the classic Prada handbag in 1985, that went on to become an overnight sensation. It was practical and fashionable, functional and sturdy. 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 outfits "uniforms."

The logo for the label, the Prada silver-and black triangle, was not as obvious a design element as those on bags from other prominent luxury brands such as Louis Vuitton. And its appeal, including the apparel, was its image of "anti-status" or "reverse snobbery."


Prada's originality made it one of the most influential fashion houses, and the brand became a premium status symbol in the 1990s. The signature Prada look encompassed luxurious fabrics in mostly black, browns, grays, greens, and creams to create simple, yet provocative styles. ''Life in Italy'' states that clothing was "sexy and spoke of confidence without revealing too much skin. Accessories included skinny leather belts, elegant high heeled shoes, and of course, the classic handbag."

Sales were reported at L 70 billion, or US$31.7 million, in 1990. Partrizio di Marco took charge of the growing business in the United States after working for the house in Asia. He was successful in having the Prada bags prominently displayed in department stores, so that they could become a hit with fashion editors. Prada's continued success was attributed to its "working-class" theme which, Ginia Bellafante at the New York Times Magazine proclaimed, "was becoming chic in the high-tech, IPO-driven early 1990s." Furthermore, now husband and wife, Miuccia and Bertelli led the Prada label on a cautious expansion, making products hard to come by.

In 1992, the clothing brand Miu Miu, named after Miuccia's nickname, launched. Miu Miu catered to younger consumers by offering apparel constructed out of "tacky synthetic fabrics". By 1993 Prada was awarded the Council of Fashion Designers of America award for accessories.

Men's ready-to-wear collections were launched in the mid-1990s. By 1994, sales were at US$210 million, with clothing sales accounting for 20% (expected to double in 1995). Prada won another award from the CFDA, in 1995 as a "designer of the year" 1996 witnessed the opening of the 18,000ft2 Prada boutique in Manhattan, New York, the largest in the chain at the time. By now the House of Prada operated in 40 locations worldwide, 20 of which were in Japan. The company owned eight factories and subcontracted work from 84 other manufacturers in Italy. Miuccia's Prada and Bertelli company were merged to create Prapar B.V. in 1996. The name, however, was later changed to Prada B.V. and Patrizio Bertelli was named Chief Executive Officer of the Prada luxury company.

In 1997, Prada posted the revenue at US$674 million. Another store in Milan opened that same year. According to the ''Wall Street Journal'', Bertelli smashed the windows of the store a day before the opening, after he had become deeply unsatisfied with the set-up. Prada also acquired shares in the Gucci group, and later blamed Gucci for "aping his wife's designs." In June 1998, Bertelli gained 9.5% interests at US$260 million. Analysts began to speculate that he was attempting a take over of the Gucci group. The proposition seemed unlikely, however, because Prada was at the time still a small company and was in debt. ''Funding Universe'' states that "At the very least, Prada had a voice as one of Gucci's largest shareholders (a 10 percent holding would be required for the right to request a seat on the board) and would stand to profit tidily should anyone try to take over Gucci." However, Bertelli sold his shares to Moët-Hennessy • Louis Vuitton chairman Bernard Arnault in January 1998 for a profit of US$140 million. Arnault was in fact attempting a take over of Gucci. LVMH had been purchasing fashion companies for a while and already owned Dior, Givenchy, and other luxury brands. Gucci, however, managed to fend him off by selling a 45$stake to industrialist François Pinault, for US$3 billion. In 1998, the first Prada menswear boutique opened in Los Angeles.

Prada was determined to hold a leading portfolio of luxury brands, like the Gucci group and LVMH. Prada purchased 51% of Helmut Lang's company based in New York for US$40 million in March 1999. Lang's company was worth about US$100 million. Months later, Prada paid US$105 million to have full control of Jil Sander A.G., a German-based company with annual revenue of US$100 million. The purchase gained Prada a foothold in Germany, and months later Jil Sander resigned as chairwoman of her namesake company. Church & Company, an English shoes maker, also came under the control of Prada, when Prada bought 83% of the company at US$170 million. A joint venture between Prada and the De Rigo group was also formed that year to produce Prada eyewear. In October 1999, Prada joined with LVMH and beat Gucci to buy a 51% stake in the Rome-based Fendi S.p.A. Prada's share of the purchase (25.5%) was worth US$241.5 million out of the reported US$520 million total paid by both Prada and LVMH. Prada took on debts of Fendi, as the latter company was not doing well financially.

These acquisitions elevated Prada to the top of the luxury goods market in Europe. Revenue tripled from that of 1996, to L 2 trillion. Despite apparent success, the company was still in debt.

A new look into the 21st century

The company's merger and purchasing sprees slowed in the 2000s. However, the company signed a loose agreement with Azzedine Alaia.http://www.prada.us/redir/prada-home Skin care products were introduced in the United States in October 2000. A 30-day supply of cleansing lotion was marketed at the retail price of US$100. To help pay off debts of over US$850 million, the company planned on listing 30% of the company on the Milan Stock Exchange in June 2001. However, the offering slowed down after a decline in spending on luxury goods in the United States and Japan. In 2001, under the pressure of his bankers, Bertelli sold all of Prada's 25.5% share in Fendi to LVMH. The sale raised only US$295 million.

By 2006, the Helmut Lang, Amy Fairclough, and Jil Sander labels were sold. Jil Sander was sold to the private equity firm Change Capital Partners, which was headed by Luc Vandevelde, the chairman of Carrefour, while the Helmut Lang label is now owned by Japanese fashion company Link Theory. Prada is still recovering from the Fendi debt. More recently, a 45% stake of the Church & Company brand has been sold to Equinox.

According to ''Fortune'', Betelli plans on increasing revenue of the company to US$5 billion by 2010.

Prada manufactures its wares in Italy, apparently keeping labor costs down by using Chinese laborers at the plants.

Prada is the main buyer from the Turkish leather factory DESA, which was found guilty by the Turkish Supreme Court of illegally dismissing workers who joined a union. The Clean Clothes Campaign, a labor rights organization based in Europe, has called on Prada to ensure that freedom of association is respected at the factory.

Businesses today

Runway shows

Prada, along with Calvin Klein and Gucci, is known for the practice of casting new models to walk exclusively in their runway shows. Usually, one of the models chosen as an exclusive will open a Prada show. An exclusive or opening spot in a Prada show is among the most coveted bookings in the modeling world. Previous Prada exclusives and openers who have gone on to success in the fashion world include Daria Werbowy, Gemma Ward, Suvi Koponen and Sasha Pivovarova, who went on to appear in Prada's ad campaigns for six consecutive seasons after opening the Prada fall 2005 runway show.

Prada boutiques and megastores

Prada has commissioned architects, most notably Rem Koolhaas and Herzog & de Meuron, to design flagship stores in various locations. A duplex megastore was opened in Kuala Lumpur at the Pavilion Kuala Lumpur in late 2008. Prada commissioned an unusual multi-purpose building called the Prada Transformer in Seoul. And 2009 saw the opening of a new store on Corso Venezia, Milan, designed by architect Robert Baciocchi, focussing on the Prada ''Made to Order'' collection.

**New York City in SoHo (first American epicenter), on Fifth Avenue and Madison Avenue
**Beverly Hills (second American epicenter)
**San Francisco
**Bal Harbour
**Las Vegas
**Ala Moana Center
**Manhasset, New York


**Milan (European epicenter)
**Forte dei Marmi
**London (Sloane Street, Old Bond Street, Heathrow Airport, Westfield London)
**Paris (Avenue Montaigne, Printemps, Rue de Grenelle)
**Monaco (Montecarlo Donna, Montecarlo Uomo)

**Tokyo (Asian epicenter) - many outlets, including the iconic Herzog & de Meuron building in Aoyama
**Korea - Seoul, Busan, Daegu, Jeju, Sungnam, total of 22 stores
*** Prada Transformer installed next to the Gyeonghui Palace in Seoul
**Kuala Lumpur (Pavilion KL, Jalan Bukit Bintang, Suria KLCC)
**Jakarta, Indonesia (Plaza Senayan, Plaza Indonesia)
** Singapore: only flagship at Paragon Mall
**Manila, Philippines (Greenbelt (Ayala Center))
**Bangkok, Thailand (Gaysorn Plaza, The Emporium)
** China: 7 stores

**Sydney, New South Wales (Martin Place) (Flagship)
**Melbourne, Victoria (Crown Casino, Collins Street)
**Surfers Paradise, Queensland
**Cairns, Queensland
**Perth, Western Australia(Opening Mid 2010)

*New Zealand
**Auckland (DFS Galleria, Customs House)

LG Prada cell phone

In May 2007, Prada joined forces with cell phone maker LG Electronics to produce the LG Prada KE850 phone. The retail price was $800.

In 2009, KF900, the second generation of the phone, was launched in Europe. With 3G capability, the phone featured a new sliding QWERTY keyboard, which made it bulkier, but functional. The phone also worked with the new Prada Link watch, which users can use to view text messages via a Bluetooth connection to their phone.

Prada in culture

* ''The Devil Wears Prada'' is a 2003 novel about a ruthless, short tempered boss, who is the renowned editor-in-chief of ''Runway'', a fictional version of Vogue, and wears designer clothes, such as Prada and Hermès. Its 2006 film adaptation stars Meryl Streep and Anne Hathaway.
* An American metalcore band also took the name The Devil Wears Prada.
*In 2005, a pair of Scandinavian artists, Michael Elmgreen and Ingar Dragset, unveiled [http://www.texasescapes.com/TexasArt/Prada-Marfa.htm], a sculpture masquerading as a Prada mini-boutique, nearby the towns of Valentine and Marfa in western Texas. Located along an isolated stretch of U.S. Highway 90, the 15-by-25-foot adobe and stucco building was partially funded by the Prada Foundation, with the assistance of American architects Ronald Rael and Virginia San Fratello. To the dismay of potential shoppers, the doors were sealed shut.

Source: Wikipedia