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Prada Milano was founded in 1913 as a leather goods accessory firm specializing in handbags. The company was in serious financial difficulty in 1978 when Miuccia Prada, granddaughter of the founder, took over operations. Since that time the firm not only significantly improved the quality of its accessories, but has also expanded into a wide variety of fashion lines. In addition to the tradition handbag lines, the firm produces a wide range of accessories that include:
While the accessories department remains important to the firm, much of its attention is devoted to other fashion lines. As a result, the accessories are often designed to coordinate with the other lines produced by the firm.
While Prada maintains its traditional line of handbags made from leather, it is better known for its experimentation with a wide range of materials, including plastics, nylon and canvas, as well as a wide range of shapes. The firm often incorporates mirror fragments or other unusual materials into the material and design, and the use of microfibers was a Prada innovation. The firm has had a great deal of success in marketing its backpack line to a younger market as a substitute for the handbag, and its black rucksack has become a trademark item of Prada.
Through numerous acquisitions of fashion related firms, Prada has grown into a conglomerate in the industry with widespread and diverse manufacturing operations. Everything that Prada sells is made by a subsidiary company that it either owns or has a minority stake. While Prada maintains some manufacturing facilities in Milan that follow the traditional handcrafted methods for its more expensive line of leather handbags, most of the accessories produced by the firm are manufactured. The firm perceives itself as selling its design expertise, fashion sense and overall image. Its skill lies in marketing, and as a result, its accessories are often not as durable as some of those made by its competitors. Nonetheless, because Prada accessories are in the luxury goods market, the general degree of quality control is high, and the firm guarantees the products against defects of workmanship. Despite the increasingly broad range of accessories produced by Prada, its specialty remains knapsack type bags as well as leather handbags, which are identified by its triangle trademark logo.
Prada and the Luxury Market
Directly operating over 120 stores globally in urban locations, Prada attempts to engage a very broad market that includes both mature and younger buyers that are attracted to prestige brands in the luxury market. The firm emphasizes versatile accessories that are suitable for use with multiple ensembles, which increases their utility. The design features also stress simplicity in order to attract the widest possible market. While Prada is firmly ensconced in the luxury market niche, it is expanding into less expensive items, primarily to attract a younger market.