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WWD Year In Fashion issue 12/11/2007

MILAN — While Miuccia Prada is at the vanguard on many fronts, she was in no hurry to launch the brand’s e-commerce Web site.

Prada quietly launched e-commerce on Dec. 3, just in time for holiday shopping. So far, the pieces bought most frequently include the Teddy Bear tricks and charms for bracelets and cell phones. In the case of a present, the package is delivered wrapped in special paper and with a personalized card. So far, 12 percent of shoppers chose this last option, while 20 percent splurged for between three to seven items.

The top-performing countries in terms of e-commerce are the U.K, followed by Italy and Germany. The service will be extended to the U.S in the near future.

Prada might have lagged behind other brands in terms of e-commerce, but not out of laziness. According to a spokesman, the designer took her time to study and observe the ever-evolving Internet world and chose to focus on the site’s content. For the site’s design, which shuns artsy gimmicks for a streamlined approach, Prada turned to Rem Koolhaas’ AMO think tank. The idea was that of a dynamic platform subject to continuous change.

The first approach under the new design launched last July, when Miuccia Prada retraced the collection’s origins by pasting PDF images of the collections, followed by live and unedited work-in-progress images of the clothes and accessories. In August, a string of pieces that either never went into production or ones especially designed for the Web were auctioned off online. The earnings went to Fondazione San Raffaele, one of Milan’s top hospitals.

This fall, a crop of other categories from the “Waist Down” exhibition to the circuit of Prada ski schools was added to the site in advance of the introduction of e-commerce.