- Luxury house Prada announced on February 23 that designer Raf Simons has been tapped as co-creative director of the brand.
- Simons will work alongside Prada’s head designer, Miuccia Prada.
- At a news conference in Milan, Simons said that this partnership is in response to a changing fashion landscape that is moving toward “excluding creatives” and that he and Miuccia hope to strengthen and refocus the creativity of the brand.
- The announcement comes as Prada rebounds after years of declining sales.
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In a move that could reshape the fashion world, Miuccia Prada — head designer of her family’s namesake label — has announced that designer Raf Simons will become co-creative director of Prada. The two will share “equal responsibilities for creative input and decision making” according to a press release issued by the brand.
“This partnership opens a new dialogue, between designers widely acknowledged as two of the most important and influential of today,” the press release said. “Conceptually, it is also a new approach to the very definition of creative direction for a fashion brand — a strong challenge to the idea of singularity of creative authorship, whilst also a bold reinforcement of the importance and power of creativity in a shifting cultural landscape.”
In 1978, Miuccia Prada took her grandfather’s leather goods company — which was founded in 1913 — and over the years, turned it into one of the top luxury houses in fashion history. She debuted her first ready-to-wear collection in 1989 before launching her own line, Miu Miu, in 1992. Meanwhile, Simons is best known for his own eponymous line, his collaboration with Adidas, and his creative director tenures at Jil Sander (2005 to 2012), Christian Dior (2012 to 2015), and Calvin Klein (2016 to 2018).
The partnership between Prada and Simons marks a rarity in fashion — an industry where usually one designer, not two, lead the top houses. What’s more, Simons’ contract appears not to have an expiration date. Or, at least, that’s what he insinuated to Women’s Wear Daily.
“In theory, it’s forever,” he told the publication regarding the length of the partnership.
A new era for Prada
At a news conference at Prada headquarters in Milan, 70-year-old Miuccia made clear to reporters that this partnership has nothing to do with her eventual retirement. Rather, it is an attempt to adapt to the changing landscape of the fashion world.
“We have to re-look at how creativity can evolve in today’s fashion system,” Simons said at the news conference. “I think lots of creatives … feel troubled, feel that the fashion industry is moving more and more towards an industry that might end up excluding creatives.”
Simons went on to say that he believes this partnership with Miuccia will help strengthen and refocus the creativity of the brand. Simons will begin working at Prada on April 2, and the first joint collection will be shown in September.
“When you have all the things to talk about or all the things that you’re thinking about, it’s more strength when two creatives believe in it, and when two creatives love it, it has more strength, in my opinion, than one,” he said.
This partnership announcement comes after Prada has faced struggling sales over the past few years, though the brand may be managing a comeback. In 2018, the Prada Group reported revenue of €3.14 billion ($3.4 billion), which was up by 6% at constant exchange rates compared with 2017. Meanwhile, Prada reported in August that net revenue in the first half of 2019 — the most recent for which data is available — was up 2% at current FX compared with 2018.
However, Business of Fashion reports that the company’s share price has been down 35% over the last five years. Rumors have been swirling for months that Prada could sell to either LVMH or Kering, though the Prada Group has shown no intention to sell.