Dolce & Gabbana, Versace, even Abercrombie & Fitch… various fashion brands have chosen to set up HQ in Italy’s fashion capital, Milan. Some, however, have closer ties with the city than others. Today, we’re going to look at fashion brands Prada and Armani, both of which have their origins in Milan.
Prada originally began life in Milan as the Fratelli Prada (“Prada Brothers”) leather goods store. Against Prada’s wishes, his business was eventually inherited by a woman – granddaughter Miuccia Prada. In some senses the real protagonist of the story, under Miuccia Prada became one of Italy’s great fashion houses, and has, through the passage of time, owned shares in other great fashion brands such as Helmut Lang, Fendi and Gucci. Its combination of quality and modernity but without the label-splashing of other Italian fashion brands all contributed to make the brand a success.
Despite reaching total revenue of around a billion Euros in its heyday, Prada was notoriously in large amounts of debt, mainly due to the shares it has brought in other companies. The company was forced to sell shares in order to pay debts off. The brand is currently stable, although falling growth in the Chinese market and employee claims of victimisation in Japan threaten its growth.
Clearly one of Milan’s – and indeed, the world’s – greatest fashion brands, Armani began life in a relatively down-at-heel setting. After working in a department store, his lucky break came when he became a designer for Nino Cerruti. Various freelance projects lead to the first Giorgio Armani collection. Renowned for his use of subtle colours and “body-conscious” fitted clothing, Armani’s power suit became famous throughout the world.
As well as various fashion labels which come under the umbrella of Giorgio Armani, Armani now offers accessories, cosmetics and homeware; and even has a chain of luxury resorts and cafes under its belt, as well as its own bar and nightclub.
The history of these brands in Milan has undoubtedly marked the city. After all, what would Milan be without fashion?