Prada's Heritage & Prada Re-Nylon: A Closer Look at the Pioneering Fashion Brand
Prada, the iconic Milanese fashion house, has been at the forefront of innovation in the fashion industry for over a century. Founded in 1913 by Mario Prada, the company has been a trailblazer in the development of new fabrics, styles, and trends. Today, Prada is known for its understated and minimalist, yet sexy and confident approach to fashion. From its early days as a leather goods manufacturer to its current status as a global fashion powerhouse, let’s take a closer look at the brand’s heritage and how the introduction of nylon to their ready-to-wear collections revolutionized traditional luxury.
Heritage & History
Prada’s story began in 1913, when Mario Prada and his brother Martino opened a leather goods shop in Milan’s iconic 19th century shopping arcade: Galleria Vittorio Emanuelle II. At the time, Prada was known for selling luxury luggage, handbags, beauty cases, accessories and even walking sticks. Shortly, the Prada name became synonymous with luxury, style and originality. By 1919, Fratelli Prada was appointed as the official supplier to the Italian royal family.
Come 1978, Mario Prada’s granddaughter – Miuccia Prada – took over the company. Her spirit and unique sense of style would soon transform the Fratelli Prada business, taking it from a family venture to one of the most powerful fashion houses in the world of luxury to date.
This might come as a surprise, but Miuccia never studied design. Resistant to join the family business, she graduated with a degree in political science from the university of Milan and attempted to pursue a career in acting. Eventually, she took a liking to wearing extravagant designer clothes from the likes of Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Cardin. Developing a very unique sense of style, Miuccia was central to modernizing the Prada aesthetic, including the launch of Prada’s little sister: Miu Miu.
Miuccia’s style grew to express a desire for simplicity – ‘New minimalism’, which is also shared by designer brands such as Helmut Lang and Jil Sander. The Prada style might appear simple to the untrained eye, yet, upon closer inspection, one can only marvel at the subtle and experimental design details. In 2023, the influence of Scandinavian style and capsule wardrobes have firmly established our love for effortless sophistication, simplicity and subtlety. However, at a time when bold patterns, prints, extravagant silhouettes and shoulder pads were trending, Miuccia’s introduction of simplicity on the runway was daring and revolutionary.
Since the new millennium, Prada's pursuit of the unusual has never faltered. Notable collections have seen Prada quite literally, ‘go bananas’ and go from being overly mute palettes to unexpected colour blocking.
The Evolution of Prada Nylon
Prada Nylon was first introduced in the late 1980s as a lightweight, durable fabric. It was Patrizio Bertelli, Miuccia's associate and husband, who advised her to change the existing style of luggage. So, inspired by her love for everything industrial Miuccia, released Prada's first nylon range in 1984. The use of nylon in haute couture was unheard of. Putting traditional textiles into question, Prada's nylon range was distinctive, radical and would soon transform the luxury fashion industry.
1. At the time, Nylon was considered a plebeian material. The water resistant fabric had only been previously been used in the making of Italian military tents in WWII and for the lining in Prada's travel bags. However, it turned out to be more expensive to use than traditional couture fabrics, such as leather, because it took 3-4 years to learn how to use the textile.
2. The first Nylon bag introduced was the Vela backpack, which remains just as popular today.
3. Although not an instant success, by 1985, Miuccia successfully elevated the status of nylon from industrial to luxurious when she launched one of fashion's most iconic items to date: the Nylon tote handbag. The Vela went on to become the cash cow of the company. The simple and timeless design of this Prada bags has made it covetable through the decades.
4. It was until the early 2000's that Prada introduced the fan-favourite mini hobo shoulder bags.
Prada Re-Nylon: Textile Innovation & Sustainability
1. The Prada Re-Nylon project made it's debut in 2019 as a capsule of six classic pieces, which has since evolved into a full collection of clothing (including dresses, jackets, skirts & more) footwear and accessories in current season collections.
2. The collection made a statement of sustainability, swapping out virgin synthetic Nylon for Econyl. Consisted of fishing nets, fabric scraps and carpet flooring, the sustainable textile derived from recycled plastic waste collected from oceans and landfills.
3. Re-Nylon was designed by Prada to be lightweight and breathable, while still being strong and durable. It is very resistant to fading, staining and wrinkling.
4. Today, Prada has accomplished their company-wide goal to covert all Prada virgin nylon into ReNylon by the end of 2021.
"It changed the traditional and conservative idea of luxury"
Today, Prada Re-Nylon is a signifier of the brand's innovative and fashion-forward outlook on the industry. Amongst the most coveted items from the collection is the Prada Re-Edition 2005 Re-Nylon mini shoulder bag and the 2000 Tessuto mini - As seen on the likes of Kendall Jenner, Bella Hadid, Kaia Gerber and Dua Lipa. According to REBAG's annual luxury investment Clair Report, the Prada Hobo Mini has accomplished an average resale value of 112% in 2022. Read more about the best secondhand designer bags to invest in here.
Are you a lover of all things Prada? Discover our collection of new in second hand Prada bags, shoes, clothes & accessories at our online shop. Prada is a brand that creates luxury made to last, so don't wait to discover the both vintage and current season preloved Prada items now. Or, looking to sell you designer items online and in the UK. Start selling on our secondhand designer online shop here.
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