Origins of Luxury Brands In Italy


Ever wondered about the history of some of the world-renowned Italian luxury fashion houses? Founded in 1913, Prada is one of the oldest Italian clothing brands. We would share the stories of luxury brands in Italy.

Prada From 1913

Founded by Mario Prada and his brother Martino, the famous Italian luxury brand started as a leather goods shop — Fratelli Prada in the fashion capital, Milan back in 1913. At that time, it started as a shop selling animal goods and imported English steamer trunks and handbags. The family-owned business was passed down from Mario to his daughter, Luisa Prada which was subsequently passed down to the next successor who was her own daughter Miuccia in 1978. By then, the brand’s sales shot up to the U.S. $450,000.

Miuccia incorporated her own creative styles and the idea of waterproof backpacks made out of nylon fabric. The business also developed immensely, after much amelioration to the quality of materials the brand was using. It was in 1977, when she collaborated with fellow Italian, Patrizio Bertelli, who owned a leather goods business

Initially, the brand did not experience instant success due to lack of advertising and high costs but soon became Miuccia's first commercial hit after the upscale investments in department stores and boutiques worldwide.

Valentino From 1960

Founded in 1960 in the capital city of Rome, Italy, Valentino S.p.A was founded by fashion designer Valentino Garavani. Valentino attended the schools of Chambre Syndicale de la Couture Parisienne where he studied design and obtained his first position as a designer alongside, world-leading fashion designer Jean Dessès. The training in France provided the relevant practical skills and developed a sense of design.

Valentino’s debut at an international level took place back in 1962 in the fashion capital of Florence. In the same year, The Sunday Times of London was quick to notice the new designer and his sophisticated styles. The brand came under the spotlight and gained much attention especially when it started designing wedding dresses for celebrities such as Anne Hathaway, Jennifer Lopez, and even Princess Madeleine of Sweden. In 1967, Valentino was given the Neiman Marcus Fashion Award, for distinguished service in the fashion field which motivated him to further develop his creativity and sense of taste. Because of his unique ability to work with historical conventions and modern styles, this luxury brand has pleased many sophisticated women to date.

Fendi From 1925

Similar to many other Italian luxury houses, Fendi is also another family-owned designer brand.  Partners Adele and Edoardo Fendi created the fashion house back in 1925, in Rome. Initially, it started as a small business selling leather goods and then on to selling fur. Later in 1946, Adele and Eduardo’s daughters worked on building the fashion empire when they became heavily involved with everything, from coming up with new ideas to adding unique pieces to the brand’s collections.

It was in 1965 when Fendi welcomed Karl Lagerfeld to the business. As the creative director, Lagerfeld propelled the brand further into the fur market which was a marketable commodity back then, although the sale of fur is not supported now. It was then when Lagerfeld opted to use fur to make accessories, rather than just to make fur coats. Previously, fur was reserved and sold mainly to the elite but with the inventive minds at Fendi, remodeling of lower-quality made it accessible to the brand’s average customer.

With the five daughters, each taking a part in the brand and Karl as the main creative supervisor, the brand continued to expand and remain at the vanguard of high-end fashion. It is regularly coming up with new designs and fashion pieces and staying staunch to its Italian roots.

Dolce & Gabbana From 1985

Domenico Dolce started as a young worker in his small family-owned clothing business. On the other hand, Stefano Gabbana turned to the fashion industry after studying graphics for a while. After a short period of working together as assistant designers, the two started their own fashion labels, namely Dolce and Gabbana. In 1985, the brand had its first runway show in Milan,

The brand created its first collection mainly based on Women’s fashion called “Real Women”. Later on, in 1987, their knitwear line was released and in 1989, their lingerie and beachwear lines. The brand’s first men’s collection was launched in 1990 and later in 1994, was the launch of the D&G label which was inspired by street fashion and more modern styles.

The company also launched its own fragrance lines, comprising Dolce & Gabbana Perfume, By Dolce & Gabbana, and Dolce & Gabbana Men. The brand also continued to expand the business when it sold a line of eyewear under the Dolce & Gabbana and D&G labels.

The co-founders, Dolce and Gabbana are regarded as the originators of Mediterranean styles that are very much inspired by Italian women of the neorealism era and the Sicily of Luchino Visconti’s 1963 film, The Leopard. Dolce & Gabbana continues to be the best illustrations of Italian ready-to-wear fashion that flourished during the mid-1980s. As of now, Dolce and Gabbana have agreed to eventually hand over control of the business to Dolce’s family and the brand is hoping to expand to double the size of its couture collection.

Efforts have been made to get the information as accurate and updated as possible. If you found any incorrect information with credible source, please send it via the contact us form
Jeshreen Noor
I enjoy learning about Italy and I'm hoping to travel there at least once to learn more about its arts and culture.
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