Designers

Fashion Biography

Miuccia Prada, Fashion Designer

INF1336

Prada was founded in 1913 in Milan, Italy as a manufacturer of leather bags. What is known today as Prada is mostly the work of the founder"s grand daughter Miuccia Prada.

Miuccia Prada was born in 1949. After university, she entered the family business 1978 and soon revolutionized the appearence of its products. Her interest in unusual fabrics led to the distinctive trademark of Prada products: the surprising combination of materials. There are usually two discoveries to be made when dealing with Prada products: First, the surprise to see the use of a specific material in an unusual context and in consequence, the astonishment how good it fits the purpose. In 1989, she introduced women"s wear with instant success, men"s wear followed equally sucessful in 1995.

Prada is said to be the most prominent example of a new form of inward directed luxury. While in the eighties luxury was explicitly displayed, today an understated luxury is sought, only recognizable by insiders. Thus, Prada clothes avoid very loud clouring and easily appealing appearences. They are described as cool, comfortable, pure, graceful, and minimalistic.

Miuccia Prada, who is entirely in charge of the companies creative decisions, says she bases her decisions mostly on intuition. She is reported to be overly fussy about each detail of her design. It can happen that each product has to be changed over and over in order to come closest to Miucci Prada"s initial idea. Her husband Patrizio Bertelli is the buisness man behind Miuccia Prada. He is responsible for the commercial side of the products and the retail strategy.

Selected Products

Prada Donna

Prada Uomo

Miu Miu

Granello

Economic Data
Performance
In 1994, total sales of Prada products were reported to be 270 billion Lira ($167 million). In 1996 total sales were 456 billion Lira ($296 million). This figure is expected to rise by 50% to 732 billion Lira in 1997 ($475 million). Europe accounts for 55% of total sales. The biggest export market is Japan accounting for 17% of total sales; other Asian markets achieved 12%. The U.S. has contributed 16% to total sales. The sharpest rise in sales for 1997 is expected in the Asian markets, with a decreasing European share. Most of the revenue is schived with the Prada Donna line (78%), followed by the Prada Uomo line (15%). Miu Miu and Granello are expected to contribute significantly more in the future. In 1996, Prada had sales worth of 1150 billion Lira in retailing ($746 million). This figure is believed to rise by 60% in 1997.

The biggest share of sales is still achieved with leathergoods and shoes, but apparel sales are expected to grow.

Distribution
Prada has 61 fully owned shops around the world. Today, Prada is pushing its retail activities heavily. There are 35 new shops planned for the next two years. Among them are shops in Italy, one for Paris, and a second for New York. The US and Canada will see ten more shops in the near future. In February, 1996, a store opened in London. In June, followed another huge store in Dqxsseldorf, Germany. Prada wants to keep tight control on the retail activities, therefore it avoids franchise agreements and duty free shops.

Production/ Licenses
In addition to tight control over retailing, Prada seeks also to control the production of its products firmly. Production and distribution of Prada products is in the hands of the company I Pelletrieri d"Italia, in Montevarchi, Italy which is run by Patrizio Bertelli, Miuccia Prada"s husband. Licenses were avoided, until Prada decided in 1996 to enter the cosmetics market (which will be in stores by end of 1998). Underwear has recently been added to the Prada product range. Curiously, the Prada underwear will bear no label at all, not even the well known Prada triangle. A new skiing clothes line will be added to the main collection in late 1997.

Investments
Apart from investments in retailing activities, Prada intends to invest also into new products. For 1998, Prada plans to market also homewear. Prada also wants to reduce the share of leathergoods among total sales for the benefit of apparel and shoe sales. In the next three years, 50 billion Lira ($32 million) are invested in new production facilities, marketing and merchandising will be supported with 120 billion Lira($78 million), and advertising will be subsidised with 110 billion Lira ($71 million). Part of the advertising investments is the sponsorship of the America"s Cup 2000 sailing tournament, which is intended to attract young Asian customers. Planned is also the construction of a new women"s shoes plant. Investments are said to be financed from Prada"s cash flow.

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By Courtney Lynne
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