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The History of Prada: From Luxury Handbags to Performance Footwear

Prada Sneakers.

Mario Prada opened his handbag and travel accessories store in Milan, Italy, in 1913. That same year, his Prada brand was so popular it became the official supplier to the Italian royal family. Born from travel trunks, beauty cases, handbags and accessories like jewelry, Prada grew in luxury stature with its Italian craftsmanship. But it wasn't until the 1970s when Miuccia Prada, the granddaughter of Mario, partnered with Patrizio Bertelli that the brand moved into a stronger international position and set the stage for retail outlets and expanding product lines.

The first footwear offering from the leather-based company came in 1979, offering a women's line ahead of the first clothing collection in 1988. When the late '80s clothing lines debuted, the expansion of Prada stores continued with openings from New York, Madrid, London, Paris and Tokyo. The clothing style mixed both classic, clean lines with an assortment of materials and small details that gave Prada a twist, helping the first collections gain popularity.

The introduction to menswear in 1993 included both clothing and footwear. However, the sneaker history of Prada — one that dips deeper than the average luxury fashion house — really began in 1997 when Bertelli combined with the Italian sailing team Luna Rossa ahead of America's Cup races. This new sailing partnership opened up a more activewear collection for Prada and the brand's first sneaker, designed as a technical shoe for actual use on the ship. Known originally as the PS0906, what is now known as America's Cup was used during sailing races. Prada added sneaker styles following the success of America's Cup and continued its footwear expansion. It added Church's in 1999, known for high-end footwear from Britain, and acquired Italian brand Car Shoe, famous for driving moccasins, in 2004.

Prada's Most Sought-After Styles

It's uncommon for a luxury brand to have a true history in performance sneakers. That's not the case for Prada, with its 1997 Prada America's Cup launch into sneakers helping the brand build an early archive of products.

  • The 1997 Prada America's Cup included a technical mesh fabric with leather overlays designed for use by the Luna Rossa sailors. With a grey rubber sole created for traction on the wet deck of the sailing ship, the Prada America's Cup was a true performance shoe and offered fans of high-end sneaker culture and fashion a new approach to sneakers (and those red lines on the upper became a signature element). The Prada America's Cup continues to spark interest from collectors when the shoe gets re-released.

  • The 1998 Prada Sneaker followed America's Cup release from the previous year, mixing the outsole from America's Cup with a new upper done in calf leather.
Prada's_Sought-After Styles

  • Fast-forward to the modern sneaker era to find the next wave of Prada offerings. The Cross-Section was released in the late 2010s in a few slip-on versions. With a mix of accessory detailing, it was the first in a new approach from Prada.

  • The Prada Cloudbust from 2018 has turned into one of the brand's most popular designs. With a more subdued design that originally toned down the bold lug-driven outsole, the Cloudbust was a fresh take for Prada. The brand added to its success with the 2019 release of the Cloudbust Thunder, mixing in a more rugged, exaggerated design.

  • The 2020 release of the Prada Techno added a more futuristic and rigid take on a sneaker and played off the brand's technical background. The outsole stands ready for outdoor use, and the stretch upper borrows design elements from some of Prada's most popular silhouettes of the past.

Key Prada Collaborations

There are two key collaborations in the Prada sneaker history — a brand that needs no help showcasing its designs. The first was a true performance collaboration between Prada and the Luna Rossa sailing team, giving us the brand's first sneaker, America's Cup. The next collaboration has more recent history and plays both on Prada's luxury cachet and sailing history. Prada and adidas first collaborated on an adidas Superstar in 2019 and then later the adidas Luna Rossa 21, one of the most popular sneakers showcasing the Prada name.


Prada in Popular Culture

Prada walks step-to-step with other luxury handbag brands by taking over the high-end global culture. But while Prada has plenty of celebrities toting its handbags, streetwear culture has also adopted the brand, thanks to music icons like Kanye West, Pusha-T and A$AP Rocky embracing the brand.

Prada Sneakers: Collectibility and Value

The adidas collaborations lead the value discussion for Prada. The Superstar from 2019 can stretch to a $1,500 value, while the adidas Luna Rossa 21 has seen resale prices as high as $2,000, although they typically sell for around $600.

Beyond the adidas creations, the Prada-made products that lead the value list include the Cloudbust designs, with a mixture of colorways hovering around $1,200. Expect a pair of America's Cup shoes to fetch about $700 on eBay.

Prada Sneakers_Collectibility and Value.