The partnership that is supposed to bring the Prada house back to the forefront of the stage at the age of 70, Miuccia Prada is starting to lose its luster, which is also hurting the sales of the brand that bears its name. The new partnership with brilliant designer Raff Simmons is a smart move, also designed to train a worthy heir and remind the industry that its engine is elite creativity Focus for Milan: The Prada House has announced, for the first time in its history, that the esteemed and veteran designer Miuccia Prada will share its creative management with the esteemed Belgian designer Raff Simmons, starting in April this year. The first joint collection of the two, for spring 2021, will be presented in September at Milan Fashion Week. Prada's Winter 2020 Show, held last week in Milan Prada's Winter 2020 Show, held in Milan last week Photo: Reuters This original partnership was accepted by the industry as a refreshing and joyful promise. Although luxury brand collaborations with limited-edition super-designers have taken place in recent years, this is the first time that two esteemed and renowned designers, who have worked alone in the spotlight, put their egos aside and decide to share responsibility for designing collections, not once. But at the same time quite a few eyebrows were raised. Prada (70) inherited the fashion house in 1978, which began as a luggage brand in 1913, and turned it into an international luxury brand. Why does she need a partner right now? Is she planning to retire and pave the way for an heir? And maybe this move prevents the weakening of brand sales? Prada has vehemently denied hints of retirement, but there is no denying the decline in profitability, nor the 35% drop the company’s stock has recorded over the past five years. According to Vogue Business, in 2018 operating profit fell by 13%, following the trend of recent years. However, in 2019 it recorded a 2% increase over the same period last year, to $ 1.6 billion. Among the other reasons for the weakening of sales is the sharp rise in prices in recent years. But Prada, although a luxury brand, is not Chanel or Hermes. There is a limit to the amount the consumer is willing to invest in its items. So is the delay in adopting the taste of the Chinese millennial generation, which has contributed greatly to the growth in the luxury industry recently. And if that wasn’t enough, the fashion house was not properly geared for the digital age, resulting in low online sales compared to other luxury brands. Also creatively it seems that the brand just stopped exciting and produces fewer hits. Prada is having a hard time recreating successes - like the nylon backpack that was launched in 1984 and redefined luxury, the bowling bag that was an "it bug" in the summer of 2000 (and is now back in a remake), or the Prada Sport line that was launched in 1997 - and requires new energy. Simmons and Prada. A rare and refreshing partnership Simmons and Prada. A rare and refreshing partnership Photo: AFP In all these respects, it seems that turning to Simmons is a brilliant move. Simmons, 52, who has owned a minimalist and avant-garde men's brand that bears his name since 1995, has been the creative director of a 2012 housing house for three-and-a-half years, revolutionizing the style and economy there. He created contemporary, elegant and wearable collections that reinterpreted archival items, offered small gestures that defined the spirit of the time, attracted a young audience to stores, and increased sales considerably. In October 2015 he left Dior - ostensibly to vacate his brand, but similar to the crowded schedule, and the six collections required to produce each year, made it difficult for him to be creative and artistic. Less than a year later he was appointed artistic director of the iconic American brand Calvin Klein and moved to New York. Here, too, he won critical acclaim and refreshed the brand, for example by selecting the Kardashian girls for his lingerie campaign - but after less than two years in office, when it became clear that sales had not strengthened significantly, he retired eight months before the end of his contract. He will now be the first designer from outside the Prada family to join the Italian fashion house - in a partnership for which no expiration date has been set. This is not the first time these two have collaborated. In 2005 Simmons was appointed by Prada and her husband, the group's chairman Patricio Bartelli, as the brand's creative director Jill Sander, who was then owned by the group. During his seven years there he presented fascinating conceptions of minimalism and color, proving that he could sensitively incorporate his handwriting into a fashion house with its own heritage. The brand has enjoyed economic success and critical acclaim. Simmons' designs for Calvin Klein (right) and housing. Demanding demands have hurt Simmons' designs for Calvin Klein (right) and housing. Demanding demands hurt creativity Photo: AFP, The Washington Post The two presented the decision in response to changes in the fashion world and disappearing creativity. "The fashion industry has stopped exploring the possibilities it faces, and it needs to be more relaxed again," Simmons told Vogue. In a conversation with The New York Times, he added: "I know that many other designers do not accept the fact that creativity in fashion is in crisis." In a joint interview with De Kat magazine, Simmons and Prada said that in recent years they have wondered how much creativity can be demonstrated in a system that requires more and more collections, more and more innovations for a demanding market. The fashion industry is indeed facing a series of difficult challenges, such as the growing awareness of its share of the climate crisis, changes in consumption and advertising habits, and the rise of the power of social networks. The joint move of Prada and Simmons provides an interesting solution to some of these challenges: it allows them to raise awareness of the issue of sustainability, by combining forces and resources into a result that will combine their two worlds; He prepares the fashion house for Prada's retirement day and produces continuity; And it brings creativity back to the forefront of fashion - both Prada and Simmons are known to be well-versed in the world of contemporary art. Either way, for Simmons this is an opportunity to go back and design women’s clothing in Europe and get involved in the company he values. And for Prada, it's an opportunity to bring the family brand back to better days and more innovative and exciting collections, and to remind the industry that creativity is the engine.
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