Prada CEO Gianfranco Datis on building a materials brand – WWD

Prada CEO Gianfranco Datis on building a materials brand – WWD

Gianfranco Datis, who was appointed CEO of the Prada brand last December, recalls that he bought his first pair of Prada America’s Cup sneakers when he was 14 with money he saved from carrying groceries for his neighbors, mowing lawns, and getting good grades in the school. school, while constantly pestering his parents for financial support.

“So, from an ambitious young teenager full of dreams to one of the guardians, one of the architects of the brand alongside Patrizio Bertelli, Miuccia Prada, Lorenzo Bertelli, and all the teams around the world, including the Chinese team that is here with me today, you can call it destiny,” said Datis. At the WWD Global Fashion & Beauty Summit, hosted in partnership with Chinese retailer SKP: “It’s the magic of life.”

The CEO then took the audience on a journey of how Prada has built a brand with substance over the years.

“The first thing I did to understand the Prada brand was to look at its roots, understand the twists and turns, the transformations the company took to become what it is today, the core elements of Prada’s DNA, the Italian roots, the entrepreneurship, the importance of materials and manufacturing,” he said.

Started in 1913 by Mario Prada as a luxury luggage and leather goods house, the brand has transformed over the decades to become a major player in the luxury industry by constantly breaking boundaries and creating dialogues between arts, luxury and fashion.

Of all the numbers he looked at as CEO of the brand, he was most proud of its 14,000 employees worldwide.

“We are building an empowering organization that is people-centred, entrepreneurial, and an organization to scale and win. We want people to come to Prada to be themselves, to give their best and definitely make a difference.

Another important number for the brand, in D’Attis’ eyes, is the 24 manufacturing facilities.

“The first thing we invite you to do when you start working at Prada is to experience the craftsmanship of Tuscany, the beating heart of the house. Prada is the first luxury brand to control all aspects of sourcing, creativity and distribution to ensure the highest levels of quality. Don’t just imagine dusty old ateliers. On Although we respect history, we love to challenge tradition. Ancient manufacturing processes reflect both traditional knowledge and manual labor combined with cutting-edge technologies and infrastructure.

Beyond world-class manufacturing capacity, Datis believes that the core of Prada’s success is its “creative vision, collections and highly desirable products.”

“We have a very unique creative setup,” Datis explained. “Raf Simons joined Prada in April 2020 as Co-Creative Director working in partnership with Miuccia Prada with equal responsibilities. This partnership includes all creative aspects of the Prada brand. Proposal comes from both directions, and decisions are mutual. This opens a new kind of collective dialogue between two of the most important The most influential designers of today, their designs connect with people’s lives, reinvent the language of luxury, and destroy stereotypes.

Another pillar of Prada’s unique proposition is the intellectual considerations behind everything it does.

“Let me read you the Miuccia Prada ad because it is so clear and powerful. “My main concern in all my roles is ideas. This is the reason for everything. Deep down, my role through the Prada lens is to make culture attractive. If it’s not attractive, no one will listen. It should make people understand that culture is essential. Intelligence and ideas make life more interesting and more beautiful. It is a pleasure and not a duty, art and fashion culture are tools for me, something essential and necessary to help your life.

“So when you read this, you realize that the Prada brand cannot be reduced to just a value proposition. The Prada brand is not just a brand. The Prada brand is much more than a lifestyle. Did you notice that she didn’t say ‘my role in Prada’? But it did “My role is through the lens of Prada,” she said. “This is very important because it confirms that Prada is a vehicle for communicating a unique perspective on the world. It’s about cultural engagement. It’s about curiosity. It’s about ideas. It’s a statement in favor of substance,” Datis said.

Also, Datis believes that since the brand’s mission is to provide cultural commentary, this gives Prada permission to play in different areas in different categories, such as hospitality with the Prada Café at Harrods in London, the architectural collaboration with Rem Koolhaas on the store and showcasing site designs and institutes. Cultural such as Fondazione Prada in Milan and Vince and Rongzhai in Shanghai.

“To sum up, Prada-Nice provokes you to immerse yourself in the arts. Prada-Nice is just around the corner with architectural data, and you can even taste Prada-Nice. And of course, while going through these different worlds, every time we learn something that we combine and offer to our customers in our stores, more and more are inculcated.” From Prada at our touch points.

He also noted that Prada is not meant to remain stable. Last year, the brand unveiled several key initiatives to accelerate the evolution of the Prada brand, such as a beauty line with L’Oréal, a high jewelry collection made from recycled gold, and a partnership with Axiom Space, the architect of the project. The world’s first commercial space station, on the creation of NASA’s lunar spacesuits for the Artemis 3 mission.

“For Prada, even the sky is no longer the limit,” Datis said.

At the end of his session, D’Attis also revealed that Pradasphere II will be on display in Shanghai from December 7 until January 21 with a selection of stories curated by the brand’s co-creative directors.

More than 500 artifacts, both physical and digital, will be on display, drawn from the fashion archive as well as from Prada’s activities, highlighting its influence on the luxury industry and in the fields of art, architecture, culture and sports.

How do we convey the richness of our perspective? Words alone don’t work. You really have to be experienced. He added that Pradasphere 2 is an immersive experience designed to give every visitor a unique taste of Prada.

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