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Prada is an internationally recognized symbol of status and luxury. Women (and men) love the shoes, clothes and bags created by Prada. There's a whole market devoted to making knock-off Pradas, and there are even some illegal sellers that try to pass off their fakes as the genuine article. As you're drooling over that $1,500 handbag, you might be surprised to learn that the history of Prada is almost as rich as the people who buy its products.
Prada has surprisingly humble beginnings. Mario Prada opened the Prada company in Italy in 1913. Prada originally produced luggage crafted from walrus skins. The designs were distinctive and unique, though some travelers found the heavy walrus skin unwieldy for travel. In response, Mario Prada introduced a line of waterproof bags and leather accessories that proved so popular he opened two stores in Milan and expanded the availability of his product to the USA. Prada also continued to design unique luggage, made from materials like tortoise shells and wood.
Miuccia Prada was Mario's daughter, and you can thank her for giving you your Prada fix as it exists today. She started the ball rolling by developing the line of Pocone backpacks for Prada. In 1978, Miuccia took over running the company, even though her background was as a performer and scholar. She'd spent five years at Teatro Piccolo as a mime and also had a PhD in political science. Miuccia inherited a company that was struggling to survive due to competition like Gucci. She reinvented and reinvigorated Prada by branching out from luggage to stylish bags aimed at the haute couture market.
After marrying Patrizio Bertelli, who took over running the company, Miuccia designed most of the products Prada produced. She preferred a simple color palette consisting mainly of yellow, green, cream and black. Her backpacks and tote bags were made from materials such as black nylon, adorned with the silver triangle symbol of Prada. The simplicity of the bags made them popular. Handbags enjoyed the same popularity when she introduced them to the Prada line in the '80s.
Prada added women's clothing to the line in the late 1980s. The first runway show was in 1989, and the elegant, simple lines of the designs rocked the fashion world, which had been deeply immersed in frills and lace before Prada. In 1998, the first Prada store for menswear opened in Los Angeles, and Prada made its mark in that market as well. The company's devotion to innovation and quality keeps Prada a household name in the fashion world.