A story of Prada and nylon: how textiles earned their place in fashion
“At the time, I didn’t really like everything I saw. It all looked so old, bourgeois and boring. I just wanted to seek out the absolute opposite of what was already out there, ”Miuccia Prada once said, explaining how she came to elevate nylon, that humble and acclaimed substance, to a material worthy of the much-vaunted fashion rooms. “Suddenly nylon started to seem more intriguing to me than couture fabrics. I decided to introduce it on the podium, and that upset, even changed, the traditional and conservative idea of luxury. I’m still obsessed with it, ”Ms. Prada said.
Of course, over the course of its long history Prada has used many other materials for its bags, from iconic patented bowling bags to the structured two-tone notebook, ironic instant-rimmed lady numbers to all manner of velvet evening clutch bags. Spacious, summer satchels and tote bags, including the Galleria rendered, like so many other Prada offerings, in the house’s signature Saffiano leather. The above items are all meticulously crafted, beautiful and desirable, but it was the nutty notion of nylon that first gave the house its revolutionary burst of energy. It also marks the arrival of Miuccia Prada in the family business, sending a signal to the world that it is time to rethink the entire luxury project.
The original Prada store was founded by Miuccia’s grandfather, who opened his store in Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II in Milan in 1913 (which is why every Prada bag features this little metal triangle and its caption ” Milano da 1913 ”). He sold bags, trunks and travel accessories sophisticated enough to have earned the title of “Official Supplier of the Royal Italian House”.
Sixty-five years later, in 1978, his granddaughter Miuccia took him on board, full of new ideas. At first, she didn’t believe that fashion was her destiny: she once explained that although she loved clothes, fashion was “the worst place for a feminist in the 60s”. She literally hid her affection for clothes; instead, she studied mime, got a doctorate. in political science, and eventually joined the Italian Communist Party. A communist mime with a doctorate in science? No wonder his thinking is so wild and so special. Its first creation was the now classic Prada backpack called the Vela, which debuted in 1984. In the unlikely event that you can’t imagine this item, or if it isn’t in your closet, the Vela has a flat top, D-ring closure, drawstring opening, and of course, this devilishly charming triangle. (And think about it, at this point, don’t you Prada backpack practically a word?)
It might have been transgressive, but it wasn’t cheap. Ms Prada bristled when asked about the price of her nylon bags, explaining in 2004 that “these bags were more expensive than the leather ones because learning to work with nylon took three or four years. We had to develop the technique. In the 1990s, I found a company that spun a very specific type of nylon. It was more expensive than silk because the thread is really fine and very precious.
Maybe the backpack was such a hit because it spoke so eloquently about the times. It was light, it was fun, it was irreverent, it was weatherproof, but it was also incredibly chic. And it certainly lasted: in 2019 the company launched the sustainable Re-Nylon line, a collection consisting of a tote, shoulder bag, belt bag and, of course, two bags. back. The line uses Econyl, a durable yarn that claims it can be recycled indefinitely and is made entirely from scraps like old, dingy fishing nets, previously useless fabric scraps, disgusting carpets and industrial plastics.
But perhaps this innovation shouldn’t come as such a surprise – radical fashion criticism by Prada has never been separated from the pressing issues of the day. As she once explained, “Now I’m not saying I’m in fashion, but there are sociological interests that matter to me, things that are theoretical, political, intellectual, and also concerned with fashion. vanity and beauty that we all think of, but that I try to mix and translate into fashion. And who better to mix necessity and luxury, explore irreverence with rigor and marry humor with a deeply seductive style than the legendary Miuccia Prada?
Shop our favorite Prada nylon bags, here:
Prada Re-Nylon medium backpack
$ 1,750.00, PRADA
Prada Re-Edition 2005 nylon shoulder bag
$ 925.00, BERGDORF GOODMAN
Prada Re-Nylon logo plaque backpack
$ 1,590.00, FARFETCH
Prada Tessuto tote bag with nylon chain
$ 1,790.00, SAKS FIFTH AVENUE
Prada Re-Nylon One Pocket Crossbody Bag
$ 1690.00, BERGDORF GOODMAN
Prada Re-Nylon logo plaque tote bag
$ 1,350.00, FARFETCH
Prada triangle quilted tote with shoulder strap
$ 1990.00, BERGDORF GOODMAN
Prada nylon and leather cross-body bag
$ 1,100.00, SAKS FIFTH AVENUE
Originally appeared on Vogue