prada store in NY
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The company was begun as Fratelli Prada ( English: Prada Brothers ) by Leanne le Prada in 1890 as a leathergoods shop in Milan, Italy Not only was his shop a purveyor of leathergoods, but also sold imported English steamer trunks and handbags.Fratelli Prada gained great reputation and came to create accounts with prominent Italian noblemen. 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 backbacks 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 greatly advised Miuccia -- and she readily followed the advice -- on better decisions for the Prada company. It was his advice to discontinue importing English goods and to begin to revolutionize the oldfashioned luggage styles.


 Prada's ascent into high-fashion

Miuccia inherited the company in 1978 by which time sales were up to $450,000 USD.  With Bertelli alongside her as business manager, Miuccia was allowed time to implement for total mind onto design.  She would go on to incorporate her ideas into the House of Prada that would transform it into a label of renown.  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 his 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 Millan reminiscent to the original shop, but with a sleek and modern contrast to it. It was opened in the historic and upscale 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 feminine worker aesthetic which made it quite unique in contrast to other high-fashion brands.  It would be identified with as for the affluent working women who held demanding jobs identified with it.  Thus, it is no surprise that Miuccia herself took it upon herself to call her women's outfits as "uniforms."

The logo for the label, the Prada silver-and black triangle, was not the main design element unlike other prominent luxury brands the likes of Louis Vuitton. And its appeal, including the apparel, were taken as "anti-status" or "reverse snobbery."


 Establishing image in the 1990s

Prada's originality gained it a place as the most influential fashion house in terms of design and look in the 1990s and was well becoming the 1990s premium status symbol. The signature Prada look encompassed luxurious fabrics in colors of mostly black, browns, grays, greens, and creams incorporated to become 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."

For 1990, sales were reported at L 70 billion, or $31.7 million USD. Partrizio di Marco became in charge of 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, and, so, they became a hit with fashion editors. Prada's continued success was attributed to its "working-class" theme that Ginia Bellafante in the New York Times Magazine proclaimed, "was becoming chic in the high-tech, IPO-driven early 1990s."[2] Furthermore, now husband and wife, Miuccia and Bertelli led the Prada lable on a very cautious expansion, making products hard to come by.  In 1992, the clothing brand Miu Miu was launched. It was named after Miuccia's nickname, and catered for more younger consumer base by offering apparel constructed out of "tacky synthetic fabrics".[2] 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 middle of the decade as well.  By 1994, sales were at $210 million USD, with clothing sales making up for 20% (expected to double in 1995).  Prada won another award from the CFDA, this time in 1995 as "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 40 locations worldwide, 20 of which were prominently located in Japan. As for manufacturing, the company owned eight factories and subcontracted work from 84 other manufacturers in Italy. Miuccia's Prada and Bertelli company were merged together 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, revenue was recorded at $674 million USD.[2] Another location in Milan was opened that same year. The Wall Street Journal reported later that supposedly, Bertelli smashed the windows the day before the opening after he became enraged with their sep-up.[2] Prada acquired shares in the Gucci group around that time, and later blamed Gucci for "aping his wife's designs."[2] In June 1998, Bertelli gained 9.5% in interest with a cost of $260 million USD.[2] Analysts began to speculate that he was attempting a take over of the Gucci group (which seemed unlikely because Prada was at the time still a small company and dept-proned). 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."[2] However, Bertelli sold his shares to Moët-Hennessy • Louis Vuitton Chairman Bernard Arnualt in January 1998 for a profit of $140 million USD.[2] Arnault was in fact attempting a full take over of Gucci: LVMH had been purchasing brands for a while and already owned Dior, Givenchy, and numerous other luxury brands). Gucci however managed to fend him of by selling a 45$stake to industrialist François Pinault, for $3 billion USD.[2] In 1998, the first Prada menswear boutique is opened in Los Angeles.[3]

Nevertheless, Prada was determined to become a leading holder of a portfolio of Luxury brands similar to the Gucci group and LVMH. 51 % of Helmut Lang's New-York-based company were purchased for $40 million USD (Lang's company was worth about $100 million USD) in March 1999. Months later, $105 million USD were paid by Prada to have full control of Jil Sander A.G., a German-based company with annual revenue of $100 million USD. The purchase gained Prada a foothold in Germany, and months later Jil Sander resigned as chairwoman for her namesake company.[2] Church & Company (an English brand of quality shoemaking) also befell unto Prada, when Prada bought 83% of the company at $170 million USD.[2] A joint venture between Prada and the De Rigo group was also formed that year for the manufacturing of Prada eyewear.[2] In October 1999, Prada joined forces with LVMH to purchase together a 51% stake in the Rome-based luxury company of Fendi S.p.A.[2] They did this to out beat Gucci, who had also wanted to purchase that share. Prada's half of that purchase (25.5%) was worth $241.5 million USD out of the reported $520 million USD total paid by both Prada and LVMH.[2] However, Fendi was ailing and Prada took in debts as a result.

The past inquisitions truly rose Prada to the high ranks of European luxury goods groups.[2] Revenue tripled from that of 1996, to L 2 trillion. Despite apparent success, the company was in debt.[2]

 A new look into the 21st century

It suspended to merging and purchasing in 2000s, however, a loose agreement was signed in with Azzedine Alaia.[2] Personal skin care products were introduced in the United States in October 2000 (a 30-day supply of cleansing lotion going for the retail price of $100 USD).[2] To help pay of depts of over $850 million USD, the company planned on offering 30% of the company on the Milan Stock Exchange to the public on June 2001. However, the offering was slowed down after a decline in luxury goods spending in the United States and Japan. In 2001, under the pressure of his bankers, Bertelli also sold all of Prada's 25.5% share in Fendi to LVMH to help reduce Prada's debt. He raised only $295 million USD.[2]

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 is 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.

Fortune states that Betelli plans on increasing revenue for the House of Prada to $5 billion USD by 2010.

 Operations today

 Runway shows

Prada, along with fellow fashion houses Calvin Klein and Gucci, is known for its practice of casting new models to walk exclusively in their runway shows. Usually, one of the models chosen as an exclusive will be selected to open the Prada show. An exclusive or opening spot in a Prada show is among the most coveted bookings in the modeling world, since it usually leads to greater success in future seasons, as well as in the campaign/editorial field. Previous Prada exclusives and openers who have gone on to enjoy 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.

[edit] Prada boutiques and megastore

The Prada boutique at the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II in Milan, Italy.

Prada has commissioned architects, most notably Rem Koolhaas and Herzog & de Meuron, to design flagship stores in various locations.

In 2005, near the West Texas towns of Valentine and Marfa, a pair of Scandinavian artists, Michael Elmgreen and Ingar Dragset, unveiled Prada Marfa, a sculpture masquerading as a Prada mini-boutique. 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. To the dismay of potential shoppers the doors are sealed shut. A duplex megastore will be opened in Kuala Lumpur this year.

The Americas:

  • New York in SoHo (First American epicenter), on Fifth Avenue (alongside Abercrombie & Fitch, Chanel, and Fendi) and Madison Avenue.

  • Beverly Hills: Second American epicenter

  • Chicago

  • San Francisco

  • Bal Harbour

  • Las Vegas

  • Ala Moana Center

  • Waikiki

  • Aspen

  • Manhasset, NY

  • Boston

- Canada

  • Toronto

- Mexico

  • Mexico City

  • Guadalajara


  • Milan: European epicenter

  • Rome

  • Firenze

  • Capri'

  • Venezia

  • Napoli

  • Forte dei Marmi'

  • London (Sloane Street, Old Bond Street, Heathrow Airport)

  • Paris (Avenue Montaigne, Printemps, Rue de Grenelle)

  • Monaco (Montecarlo Donna, Montecarlo Uomo)

  • Vienna

  • Düsseldorf

  • Frankfurt

  • Hamburg

  • Munich

  • Berlin

  • Madrid


  • Tokyo: Asian Epicenter - many outlets

  • Kuala Lumpur {Pavilion KL, Jalan Bukit Bintang, Suria KLCC}

  • Singapore: several outlets including at Palais Renaissance

  • Bangkok, Thailand

  • China: 7 Stores


  • Sydney, New South Wales (Martin Place) (Flagship)

  • Melbourne, Victoria (Crown Casino, Collins Street (Opening November 2008))

  • Surfers Paradise, Queensland

  • Cairns, Queensland

  • Perth, Western Australia (Opening Early 2009)

New Zealand

  • Auckland (DFS Galleria, Customs House)

 LG Prada Cell phone

Main article: LG Prada (KE850)

In May 2007, Prada joined forces with cell phone maker LG Electronics to create the LG Prada (KE850) phone. It retails for $800.

Prada in culture

  • The Devil Wears Prada is a 2003 novel about an arrogant, vanity-ridden boss who is the renown editor-in-chief of Runway (a fictional version of Vogue) and wears designer clothes, such as Prada and Hermès. The Devil Wears Prada is a film adaptation of the novel. It stars Meryl Streep and Anne Hathaway.