In the 1980s, much to everyone’s surprise – a young Miuccia Prada boldly opted to introduce a nylon range into Prada’s accessories, ditching the traditional leather accessories selection to include a material that had since been excluded from luxury altogether.
Nylon – which was patented in 1935, hit the market a few years later and was utilized primarily in nylon stockings and army utility-wear for its durability. Increasing in popularity Post-World War II when the demand for textiles increased for garment manufacturing.
Miuccia Prada, the youngest granddaughter to Mario Prada and heiress to the namesake luxury label came aboard to design accessories for the Italian luxury house in the mid-70s. Just a short 6 years into her career at the brand, a 35 year old Miuccia Prada found herself tired of the traditional materials produced by designers. Seeking out a new and fresh textile muse, Miuccia Prada spent a few years seeking manufacturers and developing new design techniques to work with Nylon before debuting her first bag design.
The first of Miuccia Prada’s Nylon creations was The Vela Backpack, which hit the market in 1984.
A simple design, durable nylon material with a d-ring closure and drawstring top – complete with the iconic Prada triangle emblem. The chic minimalist sack has been replicated, re-designed and developed for over almost 40 years – still available today in Prada’s Re-Nylon collection.
Simplicity, classic design and experimentalism were pillars of the 90s minimalism wave – which followed the eclectic 80s. Following the success of the initial Nylon range introduced by Miuccia Prada, the designer extended the durable fabric into her ready-to-wear collection for SS95.
Some photos from the Prada Spring 1995 Ready-To-Wear Show
Serving as further proof that Miuccia Prada has been a master in ugly-chic for decades, the SS95 show layered sheer textures, ribbed knits, utilitarian button ups, and pleated skirts – starring Nylon as the textile of choice.
90s supermodels like Naomi Campbell, Shalom Harlow, Kate Moss, Carla Bruni and Linda Evangelista all graced the runway, bearing the humble utilitarian textile refashioned into refined and sophisticated looks.
Prada Spring Summer 1995 Ready-To-Wear – Full Show
Since the debut of The Vela Backpack in 1984, Prada has expanded their range of nylon products, and made the textile a signature house code which the designer still favours today. Prada has also redesigned their signature nylon to utilize recycled material in a bid to focus on supporting sustainability in fashion.
Prada Campaigns Featuring Nylon
Luxury has since welcomed many new materials, exploring other workwear fabric, upcycled textiles and high-tech finishes. As sustainability becomes an almost universal concern for both consumers and designers, the textile innovation that occurs is directly influenced by the changes we wish to see in both our clothing and the world.
The introduction of nylon as a designer’s textile of choice compelled the fashion industry and its consumers to reflect on what can and should be considered luxury. As the needs of today’s consumer shift, and as technology rapidly evolves – we can without a doubt expect more changes to occur within the industry, introducing techniques, materials and designs that will inevitably change our current perception of luxury, and as it stands Prada is very much still moving the needle.
If you want more 90s minimalism stories, check out our other article here
Sydney Goldhawk is a Freelance Stylist currently living in Toronto.
With a love for all things vintage and runway, her perspective draws heavily from her fascination with the synchronicity she observes between modern aesthetics and references to the past.