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I would like to start this letter by saying that you are one of the reasons I have a career in fashion. I was a teenager back in the 1990s, when a new world was revealed through the pages of Vogue – and Prada was one the central characters. That vintage-quirky-intellectual look from the mid-decade collections swept me over my feet in a time when fashion wasn’t an “in your face” entertainment thing as today. Year after year, I eagerly waited for a new show (by that time on Style.com) to check how you were going to turn the fashion compass upside down once again. The colour combination, the shapes, the textures, the smart details – be a brooch, a fur stole, the heel of a shoe, a new way to carry a bag… Miuccia, you’ve rocked my world!
Nevertheless, as years gone by and your creativity kept surprising the fashion industry, the business went through not so optimistic times. Yes, I understand how difficult it is to manage a global brand, the pressure of being a public traded company, the demand for expansion and so on. Bags, shoes, perfumes must be sold. Tons of them! Suddenly, I see those bags almost everywhere and they started to become less covetable. In malls in the US, here in the UK and even in my native Brazil, I see Prada all over the place. It’s not so exclusive, it’s not so cool anymore. It’s just… ubiquitous, obvious, predictable. Three adjectives that are quite the opposite of what the label stands for, which deeply saddens me.
So, Miuccia, how to get those super cool years back on track? You are a Creator, don’t compromise on your views, don’t try to follow others. I’d love to see a better mix of clothes and accessories and the arts influence being used in a subversive way to mesmerize your consumer once again. I know that the biggest challenge for a luxury brand today is to expand without losing the aura of rarity. That’s a tough one.
Somehow, we became used to the ubiquity of Louis Vuitton, Gucci and many others but Prada, no. Do you really need so many stores? Why not invest more in epicentres and limit other points of sales? And let’s talk about the elephant in the room: digital. I know that you don’t like it and that the brand presence on social media is feeble, almost embarrassing. All I can say is that a company so embedded in art and disruption could do a lot better than posting about celebrities wearing Prada or product close ups. The same goes to the website and e-commerce. Although the site has improved its layout and the virtual store has a reasonable selection of products, we know it’s not enough and the experience is disappointing. I agree that the films are awesome, but are they creating real impact? Sorry for the honesty.
Maybe the design and marketing teams could work more aligned to ensure a better communication of the brand image, which is sadly not happening. Miuccia, I know that things are not easy and that you probably have tons of Excel tables on your desk pointing to financial goals to be achieved. It sucks. Ignore them and focus on what really matters: your designs.
Nevertheless, keep in mind that even the best products need to be marketed in a proper way to show how incredible they are. I’m looking forward to see all your out of the box concepts being applied to solve these management issues inside the brand.
By the way, autumn/winter 2016 show was exceptional!