Prada is an Italian luxury fashion house, specialising in leather handbags, shoes, ready-to-wear and fashion accessories. The company was started in 1913 by Mario Prada and his brother Martino as a leather goods shop – Fratelli Prada – in Milan, Italy. 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 harboured 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.
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. Initially they were hard to sell due to the lack of advertising and their high prices, but the lines would go on to become her first commercial hit. In 1983 the next big release was a nylon tote coinciding with Prada's expansion across Europe to locations in Florence, Paris and Madrid and the release of a shoe line. In 1985, Miuccia released 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 has become the Prada signature.
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. 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. It tried to market its lack of prestigious 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 brand's success was attributed to its "working-class" theme which was becoming chic in the early 1990s.
Furthermore, Miuccia and her husband Patrizio Bertelli led the Prada label on a cautious expansion, making products hard to come by. In 1992, they launched the high fashion brand Miu Miu, named after Miuccia's nickname. Miu Miu catered to younger consumers as well as celebrities. Prada also acquired shares in the Gucci group, and later blamed Gucci for "aping Miuccia's designs". In June 1998, analysts began to speculate that Bertelli was attempting to take over the Gucci group or at least have a voice as one of Gucci's largest shareholders which turned out to be untrue when he sold all his shares that same year. The House of Prada instead purchased 51% of Helmut Lang's company in March 1999 and paid US$105 million to have full control of Jil Sander later that year. In October 1999, Prada joined with LVMH 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 but Prada took on debts of Fendi, as Fendi was not doing well financially. These acquisitions elevated Prada to the top of the luxury goods market in Europe but despite apparent success, the company was still in debt. In 2001, under the pressure of his bankers, Bertelli sold all of Prada's 25.5% share in Fendi to LVMH. By 2006, the Helmut Lang and Jil Sander labels were sold. Prada is still recovering from the Fendi debt.
In the year 2006 when the movie "The devil wears Prada" came out the brand's name suddenly received a lot of publicity. Her $100,000 budget for the film's costumes was supplemented by help from friends throughout the industry. Anne Hathaway as the assistant, is entirely dressed in Chanel and the brand was excited to see Chanel on a young girl to give it another point of view enters while the strict boss referred to as the devil (Meryl Streep) was dressed in generous helpings of Prada. This year Prada was on everyone's lips and the film brought valuable publicity to the fashion house. Anna Winter, on whom Meryl Streep's character is based attended the film's New York Premiere wearing Prada.
Previous Prada models and actors include Daria Werbowy, Gemma Ward, Vanessa Axente, Suvi Koponen, Ali Stephens, Vlada Roslyakova 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. The Prada Spring/Summer 2009 ready-to-wear fashion show, held in September 2008 in Milan, got infamous coverage because of the fact that all the models on the catwalk were tottering and two models even fell down in front of the photographers and had to be helped by spectators to get up. They removed their shoes in order to continue their walk. Miuccia Prada didn’t blame the height of the shoes, but the silk little socks inside, which were slippery and moved inside of the shoes, preventing the models’ feet from having a correct grip on the sole. Miuccia Prada also assured that the shoes sold in stores would have a lower heel, and that the little socks would be sewn into the shoes in order to prevent further slips. But many fashionistas rightly claimed that the socks, once sewn into the shoes, would be non-washable and would quickly stink and become grey. Consequently, the shoes have never been commercially sold.