With so many high fashion brands creating handbag collections crafted with high-quality leather, fur, gold and embellishments — why is the Prada nylon bag so popular? And how did Prada make nylon such an iconic material choice?
Considered unconventional at its debut, Prada’s use of nylon has since become an iconic and pivotal moment in the fashion industry. However, it wasn’t an easy road, as success wasn’t instant.
Below we uncover why Prada started using nylon, and how this simple material decision changed the way we perceive high fashion and luxury designer bags.
What is Prada’s nylon material?
The nylon material is officially known as Pocono (not to be confused with the Poconos mountains in the US). It’s high-quality, synthetic nylon with military-grade toughness. It was initially used by her Grandfather, Mario Prada, as a cover for the steamer trunks that the company sold.
In contrast with the soft and easily marked Saffiano leather, another popular Prada material, the Pocono nylon is resilient and also waterproof. This makes Prada nylon bags instantly seem more wearable and suitable for everyday use.
When did Prada release their first nylon bag?
After experimenting with designs, the first Prada nylon bag was debuted in 1979 by Miuccia Prada. She initially released a collection of nylon bags that included backpacks and totes.
At first, the collection didn’t gain much interest. The product storyline and advertising hadn’t been perfected. And many assumed the prices were simply too high for bags created with a synthesised, non-leather material.
How it changed the fashion industry
Compared to old designer brands like Louis Vuitton and Chanel, Prada is relatively young, with an established date of 1913. Success for the Italian fashion powerhouse didn’t come until the 80s. But their unique outlook on fashion soon propelled them to a level of reverence that was reserved for other high fashion brands.
Their nylon bag collection and overall focus on high fashion pieces with a casual style represented an image that was in complete contrast to the pedigree and prestige of a brand like Louis Vuitton.
That mix of industrial and heritage caught the eye of people looking for timeless and casual style rolled into one — and ultimately for those looking to make an anti-luxury statement.
Prada was embracing modernity, with sleek minimalism paired with simple versatility. This originality made Prada stand out from a crowd of long-established brands that rarely strayed from their repertoire of centuries-old patterns and formal styles.
Luxurious materials for designer clothing and accessories were usually considered to be expensive materials that were labour-intensive to create or prepare. Leather, fur and precious metals, therefore, took centre stage in the creation of designer handbags. The highest quality that money could buy.
Today, however, designer brands are constantly looking to mimic the success of Prada, by breaking and bending the rules of fashion. Unafraid to blend the old with the new, they entwine innovation, timeless style and meticulous craftsmanship into collections that sit at the forefront of the world of fashion. Some have even released their own nylon-based collections.
The Re-Nylon Collection
In 2019, in a move to make Prada more sustainable, the company released a new fabric called Re-Nylon. This unique fabric is created using recycled and repurposed nylon, from fishing nets to discarded nylon fabrics. Again this makes Prada stand out from its contemporaries as it provides a sustainable option for those looking to reduce their personal fashion impact.