By  on May 10, 1994

MILAN -- Prada has an American Dream.

While various Italian houses have been making lots of noise about building their U.S. presence, Prada is the only one that actually put together a show for the recent New York fall collections. The move was part of a broader strategy to expand in the U.S. Included in those plans are several shops across the country.

Sparked by growing demand in the U.S. for its trademark bags, shoes and trend-oriented apparel, Prada showed under the big tents in New York, signed a lease for a flagship store on Madison Avenue, signed another one for a Miu' Miu' store (Prada's younger, funkier line) in SoHo and is looking at opening another eight to 10 stores across the U.S. and in Canada in the near future.

Prada's New York debut last month in Bryant Park marked the first time the Italian apparel and leather accessories house presented its designs to the American public.

"It's one thing to show to an American audience here, and a whole other thing to show to an American audience in the States. This should be seen as our commitment to investing in the American market," said Patrizio Bertelli, managing director of I Pellettieri D'Italia SpA (IPI), the company that produces and distributes the Prada lines, in a joint interview with his wife and Prada designer/co-owner, Miuccia Prada. The Prada business, which was founded by Miuccia's grandfather Mario Prada in 1913, is jointly run by Miuccia and Bertelli.

"The U.S. attraction has always been very strong. It's the place where things happen; it's dynamic. To be a success in New York is the most difficult, but also gives the most satisfaction," said Miuccia Prada during a recent interview at the company's stately Milan headquarters in Palazzo Manusardi.

Bertelli said the showing in New York was not a onetime event; more shows are planned as part of Prada's U.S. growth campaign. Still, this doesn't mean Prada will abandon Milan. The fashion house plans to keep showing here as well, Bertelli and Prada said.

"The whole notion of saying, 'I'm here (in Italy). If you want me, you have to come to me,' is OK, but I think you need to give a little. This is a new approach to the fashion business -- that of mobility," explained Bertelli.

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