A small family business was born in Milan in the spring of 1913. We are talking about Prada. In a century it has become an international group in the luxury sector
The history of the group, led by Miuccia and Patrizio Bertelli, is a great example about how working with commitment, with great sacrifices and with the right investments, leads to success.
Company’s strengths are many: since the Prada Foundation as regards the part of contemporary art up to the collaboration with the most famous architecture studios to create unique stores in the world. Prada Group is constantly growing and is a flagship for Italian fashion and economy.


The company was founded in 1913. The two brothers Mario and Martino Prada opened a boutique in the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele with the “Fratelli Prada” sign. There were mainly suitcases, trunks, travel bags and handbags.

Prada sign
“Prada Milano” by Rafel Miro is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 

They had such an amazing success that only six years later they became the official shop of the Royal House of Savoy. At that time this was the greatest prestige that could be received.
From that year on, the success increased, making the store a national and international reference point. Especially for everything related to the world of leather goods.
Business was really flourishing and, in those years, they opened a second shop in via Manzoni, in Milan.

A crash after the war

The years of the Second World War were hard and when the Gallery in Milan was bombed problems arose. The shop in via Manzoni was closed while the first one, the historical one, continued to hold on. Mario Prada died in 1958 and his two daughters Nanda and Luisa took over. Luisa has a strong personality and sense of organization. She changes the company’s style by making it more suitable for the recovering bourgeoisie. This was how the company managed to recover but until the 1970s is still not managing to devolpe.

The development of Prada

In 1977 Miuccia Prada, Mario’s grand-daughter, took over the business. She had a degree in political science, had fought for women’s rights. Thus a great growth process began and it that will make the company a reference point for luxury fashion all over the world. In 1977 she met Patrizio Bertelli for the first time and together they started a collaboration called “The Italian Leathermen“. This had become an industrial company that distributed Prada products worldwide.

view of a prada store in london

In 1985 Miuccia herself, the company’s creative director, designed the famous nylon backpack symbol of Prada. It was in the 90s that the maison’s fame grew when new products were distributed. Shoes, clothing for both men and women and ready-to-wear collections made by Miuccia herself with a sober and elegant style. The first Prada fashion show was in 1988. A few years later a new brand was created, Miu Miu in which women’s garments with a more modern style and for a younger target were presented.

Company’s acquisition

A sport line, recognized for the famous red line, was created. In 1999 the collection made its first appearance in the America’s Cup “Luna Rossa” sailing team. Patrizio Bertelli, CEO of Prada, decided to make the company a cornerstone of luxury and high fashion; so, in those years a process of great acquisitions began. Let’s see some: Church’s Group, the 50% of Helmut Lang, Jil Sander, the 51% of Fendi until it was sold to LVMH, Car Shoe for a 51% and Santacroce.

Prada’s development since 2000

In these years we can mention the first fragrances launched under the Prada brand, for both men and women. And the first eyewear line: Prada Eyewear. The Prada Group is famous worldwide for its great inclination for the twists and turns and for the high organization of control in all stages of the production cycle.

fragrancies by prada
“Prada Olfactories” by 2×4 Inc. is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 

The main activities carried out by the company are distribution and retail in many high fashion sectors: from leather goods to footwear, from clothing to accessories. In 2011, the company was floated on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. The company owns three other brands that are directly connected to the parent group: Miu Miu, Chruch’s and Car Shoe which maintain their original identity.

Prada Foundation

In the early nineties, Miuccia Prada and Patrizio Bertelli created the PradaMilanoArte project, which promotes exhibitions of contemporary sculpture. The project has merged with the more famous “Prada Foundation”. Every year, large contemporary art exhibitions are organized with the collaboration of great international artists. Both Miuccia and Patrizio pay great attention and interest in the world of contemporary art. Hence the idea of the Foundation. An exhibition space present and exhibit the works in collaboration with both international and Italian artists was possible. In 2011 a headquarter was added to the foundation in Venice at the Palazzo Ca ‘Corner della Regina, overlooking the Grand Canal.

Prada, view of the foundation observatory

In those same months, the great project of the architect Rem Koolhaas for the renewal of the Prada Foundation in Milan was revealed, which then opened to the public in May 2015. Is a large exhibition space of the early twentieth century of about 17,500 square meters. The Foundation, like the company, is also a great reference point for art and culture worldwide.
Miuccia Prada’s words on the Foundation are: “Fondazione Prada is an initiative that aims to receive and retransmit the deepest mental provocations of the art of our time”. Over the years, the foundation has embarked on various messages and subjects of exposure and has opened up to the most diverse themes in many sectors. Among the most addressed: architecture, philosophy, science, design and cinema.

Prada: more than a century since the beginning of a great story ultima modifica: 2020-01-27T12:02:57+01:00 da Andrea Cacco