Since the first line was launched in 1913, Prada has been a leader in the fashion industry, continuing to escalade to a representation of elegance and luxury. The label, founded by Mario Prada, originally began selling shoes, leather handbags and trunks before expanding the product line to include men and women’s apparel, jewellery and accessories. The company, which began as two boutique stores in Milan, has now evolved into extreme international success and the house of Prada is now considered, “One of the most influential forces in the industry,” (Ryan 2007, 7). As a luxury brand driven by ambition, Prada has now expanded to over 250 stores world wide. Prada’s focus is on the shopping experience, integrating experiments of ugliness into interesting museums of consumerism. “We’re putting all of our energy into the stores, because the stores are the most important places where your work is seen- it’s where people go to access the clothes and the ideas,” (Miuccia Prada, quoted in Huckbody 2007, 313). The survival of the brand however, depends largely on its cohesion between fashion and art, developing hyper luxury that is saturated with the Prada brand identity of avant-garde creativity. The influential identity of the brand is largely due to the effective marketing policy, which permits the Prada name to not only convey and identify the brand but also to portray a sense of class, high fashion and sophistication for people across different countries and cultures. Miuccia Prada aims to diffuse the real sense of luxury and sophistication through designing clothes for anti-status dressing. This concept is the source of Prada’s genius, “Think the unthinkable, experiment with ugliness, turn an idea around, then make it beautiful,” (Aspden, 2008).
The company’s first ready to wear collection was launched in 1989 and was admired for its clean lines and elegant minimalism. It is this minimalist approach and innovative creativity that still defines Prada today and sets it ahead in the fashion industry. “There is always diversity amongst Miuccia’s designs as she embraces the power of change,”(Huckbody 2007, 309). Channelling everything from the 1950s airhostess look, to classic shapes and futuristic fabrics, Prada’s collections continue to effectively highlight the relationship the brand creates between luxury and avant-garde art. “Luxury is a relational concept and the significance of Prada’s strategies of distinction is contextualized within the prevailing narratives of luxury,” (Ryan 2007, 9). The success of Prada relies on its ability to create an entire experience of hyper luxury fused with artistic creativity. Regardless of how diverse the inspiration for each seasonal collection, the aesthetic continues to remain in synch with the brand’s image, maintaining an ideal of experimentation and newness. However, as always this is complemented with a connection to reality, allowing the clothes to represent a grounded level of luxury and sophistication, appealing to a wide range of the everyday women. “My search for something new is honest. I want to do something new but it’s not something just for the sake of it fashion should be wearable,” (Miuccia Prada, quoted in Huckbody 2007, 309).
• Aspden, P. 2008. A Contemporary Marriage. Financial Times Weekend Supplement- Life and Arts. April 26. http://us.ft.com/ftgateway/superpage.ft?news_id=fto042520081608090845
• Byrne, S. 2008 Prada and Starbucks: the non-place of retail. Diffusion. http://diffusionblog.blogspot.com/2008/04/prada-and-starbucks-non-place-of-retail.html
• Hawthorne, C. 2004. Capt. Koolhaas Sail the New Prada Flagship. The New York Times. July 15. http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9A01E4D6163AF936A25754C0A9629C8B63
• Huckbody, J. 2007. The shock of the New. Harpers Bazaar Australia. September 2007
• Ryan, N. 2007 Prada and the Art of Patronage. Fashion Theory: The Journal of Dress, Body and Culture 11 (1): 7-23
• Sokol, D. 2003. SCW Case Study: The Prada Effect. Retail Traffic. March 1. http://retailtrafficmag.com/design/interiors/retail_prada_effect/
• Think Fashion. 2007. http://www.thinkfashion.com/designers/prada.aspx
• Women’s Passions Lifestyle Magazine. 2007. http://www.womanspassions.com/