Chat with us, powered by LiveChat *The body of your project can be structured in a variety of ways, but think about the models of rea | Max paper
  

*The body of your project can be structured in a variety of ways, but think about the models of reading we have done so far to guide you. So for example, you might divide your overarching topic into a few questions that you want to answer in turn, or you might have one framing question and you offer a few different examples or case studies to address it. The body of your project is not only where you answer your questions but where you build a persuasive case for your answers; what evidence have you found through your research to support your argument?

Independent Research Project: Final Project

Aims and Outcomes:

These assignments will contribute to some of the following learning outcomes on this course, depending on the exact nature of your research topic, the resources you use to explore that topic, and the format you choose to convey your findings:

* Locate the history of textiles in a broader context of environmental, social, cultural, political, and economic circumstances of different times and places.

* Use methods of object-based learning to formulate historical questions on the history of textiles.

* Identify appropriate source material to use as evidence for the history of textiles.

* Analyze primary sources across a range of media (eg, written texts, visual and material culture as evidence for the history of textiles.

* Evaluate historical arguments and evidence put forward by other scholars in the field.

*Communicate aspects of the history of textiles using a variety of modes of expression (eg, academic and popular writing, peer discussion, etc).

Preparation

*By the time you embark on the final project, you will have already formulated a key question or questions that you intend to answer, and will have completed a preliminary bibliography to show the viability of the project.

*Continue to carry out your research in order to craft an answer to your question. Remember that questions that start with “how” and “why” (or other phrases such as “to what extent”) will allow you to develop original interpretations and analyses from your research more than questions that start with “who” or “when” that might lead you more to a factual or narrative structure. There is nothing wrong with facts and timelines, but I’d love to see you stretch your skills of historical interpretation.

*You are all working on very diverse topics, which will lend themselves to different research strategies. That said, as a rough guideline, I would suggest consulting c. 10-12 secondary sources and, if it seems relevant for your topic, 3-5 primary sources (including examples of textiles and/or other forms of material and visual culture) to use as examples of your larger points, but depending on your interests and approach, you could shift the balance between primary and secondary sources. I am happy to discuss this further with you in relation to your specific topic.

Also remember that “consulting” secondary sources does not necessarily mean reading every word of every book. You should learn to hone your research to what is important to your own area of inquiry. Think about the advice on searching for sources; sometimes it is useful to start with a few broader texts, especially to help you identify key examples to discuss and then ‘drill down’ into more specific areas. In addition to the library or other online search tools, you might use the footnotes and bibliographies of the works you are reading to locate other relevant source material. (Also make good use of indexes—often there are books that have useful information for your research but only perhaps a chapter is relevant, or even just a few pages—you only need to read what you feel is relevant to your topic!)

Sometimes you will not find a lot of secondary texts on your particular topic so you can think about the various strands of the research and how best to access them; for example, if you are interested in textiles and medicine, you might not find specific articles with those combinations of keywords, but if you read up on, say, the history of hospitals, you might find information about bedding and the importance of cleanliness; or you might read up on nursing to find information about uniforms, etc.

*Organise your research materials into a clear plan for your writing. Consider the question(s) you are answering and think about how best to structure your final project so that it can clearly answer that/those questions.

Final Assignment

*The final assignment may take one of four formats, discussed further below: a written paper; an online exhibit or presentation; a short film; or you may make a textile and write a short reflection on how this act of making has incorporated your research.

*Regardless of what format you choose, you should present the argument you have crafted as an outcome of your research. What did you learn? What evidence can you share to underpin your argument? What are the significance of your findings?

*Again, the varied topics you all are pursuing might result in a variety of approaches to structure, but there will be some commonalities. You always should have an introduction to explain to the reader/viewer what the project is about (eg, what is the question that fuels your research) and why this topic is significant (whether broadly significant or of interest to you, or both). I often find it effective to lay out your argument at the start of your project, and then explain how the rest of your paper, presentation, or film will be structured to delve into this further; we often refer to this as “signposting.”

*The body of your project can be structured in a variety of ways, but think about the models of reading we have done so far to guide you. So for example, you might divide your overarching topic into a few questions that you want to answer in turn, or you might have one framing question and you offer a few different examples or case studies to address it. The body of your project is not only where you answer your questions but where you build a persuasive case for your answers; what evidence have you found through your research to support your argument?

*NB: It is fine at any point in your essay to indicate if there are debates about the meaning and significance of your topic, or the specific examples, and let us know how you evaluate this after weighing up your readings. For example, perhaps another author writes that your theme is of less importance, but you want to take a stand for why you think it is important: that is grand. Or if one author thinks that a particular kind of textiles is an example of one thing and another author thinks it is an example of something else, you can tell us what you find more persuasive and why. You do not need to do this more “historiographic” work, but if you ever find that your source materials seem to be contradicting one another, that is not a problem—that can become an interesting point of your research!

*At the end of your project you should have a brief conclusion that focuses on the argument, and its contribution or significance. You might also note further questions that arise from the research you have done. As this is not a terribly long assignment, you do not need to entirely recap the points you have made in the body of your essay, but instead really try to bring these different strands, examples, or case studies together into a punchy final statement or section. For your conclusion think about what you want the main “takeaway” to be for your reader or viewer and state that clearly.

*Written Paper Option: If you choose to write an essay, it should be c. 2000-2500 words (not counting referencing and bibliography). Please make sure your work is referenced properly. You may use whatever referencing system you choose, as long as you use it consistently and thoroughly. I am always happy to give guidance on referencing and citation.

*Short Film Option: Your film should be c. 5-7 minutes. Its structure should replicate the approach of an introduction; examples, case studies, or sub-questions; and conclusion, but presumably will do so in a more visual way. In lieu of footnotes/endnotes, you might include in either voiceover or “text cards” (that are filmed for long enough for the viewer to read them!) a brief comment on what scholars have been influential to your thinking about particular points and/or your might visually share your source material, especially primary sources. With a film there will not be the same expectations of referencing throughout as you would have in a written paper, so it is important to include a bibliography on screen at the end of your film (again, you can print this and film it) to show off the research you have done.

*Online Exhibit or Presentation: This option is the hardest to “quantify” in terms of number of slides or cards or images because that will depend so much on what your specific topic is, but basically, the exhibit or presentation needs to be long enough to convey your argument, and the research that underpinned it, in a robust way. So I think about this option in terms of the structure or “storyboard” as opposed to length; rather than having the paragraphs you might have in a written essay, you will have building blocks of your presentation, so if you think about a 2000-2500 word essay having maybe 8-10 paragraphs, this might have 8-10 blocks, but, much like an essay, those might be grouped together in various ways. A “block” might be one slide or card, or a few of them that fit together (such as two images and some explanatory text), depending on both your topic and the software you use.

You may use a variety of options for the software, such as Sway, Canva, Prezi, or even Power Point, though I think the first three may offer a bit more visual interest for a short presentation that is not accompanied by other lecture materials. Your presentation may be entirely visual, using text and image to build your argument, or you may incorporate voice-over if you want.

Similar to the film option, I do not have the expectation for footnotes/endnotes in a presentation of this type but it would be good to have captions for images and/or briefly mention any key sources in your text/voiceover, or include them as visuals. You should include a bibliography at the end of the presentation to show off the research you have done.

*Making Option: Finally, you may choose to make a textile, or textile-related object (eg, tools, images of textiles, etc), that is based in the research you have done. This might be the replication of a historical technique, or it might be an interpretation of some past theme of textile history. If you choose this option, you must also submit a short (c. 750-1000 words) essay that explains how your research underpins what you have made; you still should have an argument derived from your research that you are putting forward in your work and your text. So for example, perhaps you are studying the textile traditions of a certain place and time and find one particular motif to be dominant and have learned reasons why that is the case. You might create an object with that motif to represent the crux of your research.


Independent Research Project: Proposal and Historical Questions

I wanted to look at nylon because I’m really interested in and like Prada’s nylon collection. At the very beginning, Prada didn’t want to use premium materials, she wanted to use plebeian materials to challenge luxury, so she chose nylon. She developed the use of nylon at the same time, because using nylon to make it required a whole new technology than using leather. Nylon has advantages that no other material can match, which I will explore in my analysis. Now that nylon is a main line and a popular product for Prada as a brand, I want to explore how nylon came back into the spotlight and became popular. I will start with the discovery of nylon and its use as a textile until it became commonplace. I also want to analyze the obstacles to the development of nylon, perhaps the development of nylon as a textile material that people reduced or stopped using. The complexity of nylon production and production volume is also one of the measures of nylon as a textile material. As well as the development of mechanized production of nylon material. Finally until now, nylon reemerged as the choice of people because of its material and advantages.

My question is what are the advantages of nylon that are so popular now. What is so special about nylon compared to other materials that makes this material stand out and become the new choice for luxury goods and sell like hot cakes.



Comment:
I think you will just want to sharpen up your historical timeline on this project (so for example, when you write things like “at the very beginning” when exactly do you mean?)–it’s not a problem if you are talking about relatively recent history but you do want to try to use a historical approach to your research such as considering change over time, or explaining how the textiles or fashion you are studying are situated in their historical circumstances. This should be very achievable!

The evolution of a luxury brand:
the case of Prada

Christopher M. Moore
Caledonian Business School, Glasgow Caledonian University,

Glasgow, UK, and

Stephen A. Doyle
Department of Fashion, Marketing and Retailing,
Glasgow Caledonian University, Glasgow, UK

Abstract

Purpose – The purpose of this paper is twofold. In its initial stages it undertakes a review of the key
fashion industry-related themes emerging from the IJRDM. Subsequently, it reflects upon these
themes in the context of luxury fashion brand Prada and in so doing identifies four key change phases
in the evolution of the brand.

Design/methodology/approach – Review of literature spanning 20 years.

Findings – The paper identifies five overarching general themes. These comprise fashion retailer
brands, the internationalisation of fashion retailing, the emergence and challenges of on-line fashion
retailing, changes in the supply chain and changes in consumption.

Originality/value – The paper provides a valuable overview of the main research themes within the
context of fashion retailing. In addition, it provides a critical insight into the changing nature of Italian
luxury fashion brand Prada.

Keywords Fashion, Marketing, Brand-management, Luxury, Growth

Paper type Case study

Introduction
European research in the area of fashion marketing and retailing is a relatively recent
activity and significant research pace in the area extends back no more than 20 years.
That does not discount previous studies as unimportant. Indeed, the work by
Lualajainen (1991, 1992) on Hennes and Mauritz and Louis Vuitton contributed much
to our understanding of the international market expansion of what have become global
fashion retailers. Similarly, Treadgold (1990, 1991) provided invaluable insights into the
increasing shift towards internationalisation of retailers in general and in particular the
internationalisation and philosophy of Laura Ashley and the impact that this had upon
the company’s foreign market entry methods. Yet, while these major fashion retailers
were considered, the focus of these studies was precipitated more by an analysis of
international strategic development rather than the specific nature, form and experience
of particular fashion companies.

While European fashion retailing research pre-the early 1990s was barren, it was
significantly more advanced in the USA. Emerging often from researchers based within
consumer science departments or food/agricultural/textile science faculties, these
studies were dominated by consumer choice/consumer behaviour considerations and
quantitative methodologies reliant upon college student samples. Crucially, American
researchers’ define, describe and categorise fashion as apparel and the majority continue
to do so. In contrast, European research used clothing, then fashion as the collective

The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available at

www.emeraldinsight.com/0959-0552.htm

Evolution
of a luxury

brand

915

International Journal of Retail &
Distribution Management

Vol. 38 No. 11/12, 2010
pp. 915-927

q Emerald Group Publishing Limited
0959-0552

DOI 10.1108/09590551011085984

term. It could be argued that this distinction is not accidental. The difference marks
a distinction in the way that fashion is “played out” within the American and European
retailing markets. Apparel indicates and represents a functional viewpoint that
understands the sector objectively – driven by interests in product performance,
manufacturing processes and merchandising techniques. And 20 years ago,
functionality was largely the principal characteristic of the American clothing sector.
For it could be argued that the fashion retailer as “brand” – per se – is a relatively recent
phenomenon in the mass market of the USA fashion sector. It has only been with the
loosening of the strangle-hold of department stores on clothing distribution and the
emergence and success of brand-led fashion retailers – such as The Gap, Abercrombie
and Fitch and Victoria’s Secrets that the fashion retailer as a brand has had any
relevance in the USA. Consequently, consideration of the American fashion retailer as a
brand in its own right is a relatively recent phenomenon and this is reflected in a
literature that little account either of the business models of fashion retailers in the USA,
or of the role that its own-brands play in the securing of competitor advantage.

From the early 1990s, the literature began to consider the nature, form, structure and
activities of fashion retailers within Europe. This emergence is inextricably linked to the
supportive contribution of the International Journal of Retail & Distribution
Management (IJRDM) and in particular the advocacy of the journal’s editor, Professor
John Fernie. The journal is not exclusively European in its perspective, but it has
provided a distinctive platform that reflects the European fashion retailing situation.
Reviewing the fashion retailing related IJRDM articles in the past two decades; it is
possible to identify five research themes that have dominated thinking and debate in the
area. These are as follows.

1. The fashion retailer as brand: the fashion brand as retailer
Perhaps marking the most distinctive feature of the European fashion retailing sector,
the brand has emerged as a pre-eminent strategic communications device to signal the
values, positioning and identity of the retailer and its products. The literature has
explored these issues in a number of ways in the journal, such as on a case study basis.
For example, Vignali et al. (1993) work on Benetton, Lea-Greenwood’s (1993) review of
River Island and Moore and Birtwistle’s (2004, 2005) evaluation of the business models
of luxury fashion retailers Burberry and Gucci. Alternatively, survey-based approaches,
such as that by Moore (1995) have sought to delineate more broadly the features of
fashion retailers’ branding strategies. What is common to all of these studies is the
realisation that fashion retailers, especially within Europe, have assumed the brand
creation, development and distribution roles. This direct involvement has provided
direct control over design, distribution, communications and pricing. The benefits of this
involvement have been well identified elsewhere (Fernie et al., 2003) but pre-eminent
among these are those relevant to securing brand exclusivity and the attendant
advantages of customer loyalty.

2. The internationalisation of fashion retailing: globalising the fashion branding
Fashion retailers are among the most international of companies (Moore et al., 2010). The
IJFDM output in the past two decades has tended to focus upon two specific stands. The
first is the role of the brand in supporting foreign market growth (Wigley et al., 2005).
This is particularly evident in fashion retailer cases studies, such as Per Una in Taiwan

IJRDM
38,11/12

916

(Wigley and Chiang, 2009); the now defunct childrenswear brand Adams in Spain
( Johnson and Allen, 1994); the expansion of Debenhams in the Middle East ( Jones, 2003)
and Marks and Spencer in Hong Kong ( Jackson and Sparks, 2005). The influence of the
brand to consumer perceptions of internationalising retailers’ market entry is also
recognised in very recent studies (Alexander et al., 2010). The second strand is concerned
with retail market structures in places such as India (Halepete and Seshadri Iyer, 2008);
Spain (Gold and Woodliffe, 2000); Korea (Choi and Park, 2006), Brazil (Alexander and de
Lira e Silva, 2002) and in particular the features of the fashion retailing environment in
these markets.

3. E-fashion: style on-line
Online fashion specialists, such as Net-a-Porter and ASOS have provided compelling
evidence through its growth and profitability that fashion is not excluded from online
opportunities. Furthermore, the fashion retailers, Top Shop, All Saints and Gant have
been able to combine a strong retail and online presence to generate significant brand
growth opportunities. Despite the significant growth of online fashion selling, the
literature remains under-developed in this area. Murphy (1998) and Marciniak and Bruce
(2004) provided an early analysis of the fashion e-commerce and noted the tentative
development of a web presence by European fashion brands; while Ashworth et al.
(2006) considered the means of securing online advantage within the lingerie sector.
With respect to the fashion retailers’ perspective, the lJRDM has remained largely silent
since then. Greater attention has been given to the behavioural dimensions to the online
fashion shopping (Newman and Foxall, 2003); considering the impact of technological
advances (Kim and Forsythe, 2007), consumption behaviour across distribution
channels (Goldsmith and Flynn, 2005) and connected to the latter, the significance of
brand trust upon shopping behaviour (Hahn and Kim, 2009). Opportunities for retailers
to use the internet as a means of customer segmentation via customization have recently
been considered by Cho and Fiorito (2009). Yet, despite the fast pace of e-fashion sales
growth, fashion e-tailing has been under-represented in the literature and there is
significant opportunity for investigation from both a corporate and consumer
perspective.

4. A new fashion supply chain: cheaper, better, faster
The fashion supply chain has undergone seismic change in the past generation.
Previously, fashion supply chains were characterised by its inflexibility, a dependence
upon long term predictions and commitments and a tendency to source from specific
locations over long time periods. One Spanish fashion conglomerate has done much to
change old strategies. Inditex, and specifically its most financially important fascia,
Zara, has at the very least altered perceptions of how a modern fashion supply chain
should be configured. As a vertically integrated business, Zara’s control over the design
to retail cycle has provided the critical advantage of speed. Where previously, the trends
of high fashion took at least six months to percolate to the high street, now Zara can
service a high-street interpretation within six weeks.

5. Fashion consumption trends: with brand, therefore I am
While there has long been an intrinsic understanding that fashion brand choices are
used a means of self-definition, self-demarcation and self-communication the intensity of

Evolution
of a luxury

brand

917

competition and increase in availability has created a more fashion aware and informed
group of consumers. In respect of this, the role of fashion style and brand choices as
coded identifiers (McCracken and Roth, 1989) has similarly intensified. Significantly,
Wigley et al. (2005) highlighted the relationship between brands and consumers as being
based upon mutuality of perceptions whereby the brand and the consumer have
synergistic characteristics. This highlights the need for brand to develop and manage
what may be termed a consistent, appropriate and desirable “back-story” to which the
consumer can ally themselves and interpret within the context of its own identity.
Woodruff-Burton (1998) stressed the constructed nature of the self from a
post-modernist perspective, indicating that how consumers represent themselves is
through an amalgam of “selected and edited cues, comprising amongst other dimensions
fashion brands”. In respect of this, there is therefore clear alignment between this view of
the consumer and fashion brands as entities that are created, managed and sustained
through an array of tangible and intangible devices. Bakewell and Mitchell (2003) and
Bakewell et al. (2006) delineate the generational and gender challenges for fashion
companies in its studies of generation Y consumers. Not only do these studies support
the basic premise that consumers engage and utilise brands to for both private and
public reasons, but they also serve to stress the complex role of fashion brands in
communicating dimensions such as attractiveness, seriousness, status and success.

In undertaking this review of the literature spanning two decades and demarcating
the key, over-arching themes that emerge the significance and influence of the IJRDM as
a venue for fashion retailing research becomes evident in terms of breadth and depth. In
addition, it establishes a valid framework for the consideration of fashion brand
marketing and management that is simultaneously historical and contemporary and as
such facilitates an evolutionary review of fashion brands from its early stages through to
present day. In respect of this, revisiting the fashion related research that has comprised
the IJRDM provides an insight, both historic and contemporary, into the nature and
influences of change manifest within the sector. Reflecting upon this changing fashion
landscape and its impact upon the organisations that comprise it, the subsequent section
of this paper will analyse Italian, luxury, fashion brand Prada and the change stages that
characterise its evolutionary phases.

Prada: then and now
Established in Milan in 1931 by Mario Prada, Fratelli Prada (as the business was
originally named) immediately claimed a premium market positioning in the Italian
accessories market. This was achieved in two ways. First, the company opened its first
boutique in the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele shopping arcade. The arcade, named after the
first king of the unified Italy, connects the Piazza del Duomo with the Piazza della Scalla,
which sits as the foreground to the city’s famous Opera House. Since its opening in 1877,
the Galleria has been inextricably linked to premium retailing. While in more recent
times the space has become an important Milanese tourist attraction and also home to
some fast foods chains; luxury brands, including Louis Vuitton, Tods, Gucci and Prada
still retain a highly visible presence there. Second, Fratelli Prada’s product focus of
leather travel accessories was from its inception, targeted to match the lifestyle needs of
the elite consumer. This link with the higher echelon was formally recognised by Italian
royalty, when Fratelli Prada was designated an official supplier to the Royal Household.
This gave Prada the right to incorporate both the coat of arms and the knotted rope

IJRDM
38,11/12

918

insignia of the House of Savoy into its trademark logo. These emblems remain part of the
Prada brand livery (Prada, 2009).

Both Fratelli Prada and that other great Italian luxury accessories firm, Gucci, shared
some similarities but exhibit some striking differences. Both were founded within ten
years of each other (Gucci in 1921) and both within two important commercial and travel
destinations (Gucci in Florence) and each focused upon accessories for a customer
segment made rich by commerce and for whom impressive travel accessories were of
importance. But three important differences distinguish its business approach over the
next 50 years.

First, Gucci identified the power of celebrity for brand status enhancement by being
associated with the greatest American and Italian movie stars of the 1940s onwards.
Prada’s image was more sedate than celebrity.

Second, buoyed by the demand generated by its celebrity status, Gucci engaged in
an aggressive international expansion, focusing upon important cities including
Philadelphia, San Francisco, New York, Beverly Hills, Chicago and London. In
contrast, Prada remained largely a domestic business.

Finally, while Gucci engaged in a prolific brand extension strategy through many,
varied licensing agreements (which by the beginning of the 1980s had almost ruined its
brand status), Prada did not.

By the early 1980s, Prada was a business that was little known outside of Italy. With
its reliance upon imported finished goods, largely from England, Prada’s product range
was indistinguishable and a distinct brand identity was indiscernible. The literature on
fashion brand revitalisation has recognised the importance of individual(s) whose vision
and creativity brings about a transformation of the brand’s status and success (Moore
and Birtwistle (2005) on the impact of Tom Ford at Gucci). For Prada, that transforming
individual was the founder’s granddaughter, Miuccia who took over the company in
1978 from her mother.

The four phases of change
Reviewing the Prada business model under Miuccia’s 30 years of leadership, it is
possible to identify four distinct phases of the brand’s evolution. These phases are
delineated in Table I and explored thereafter.

Phase 1: the search for a differential
When Miuccia Prada took over the business, it is claimed that she was a reluctant heiress
of this somewhat moribund business. However, with the support of her partner (who
subsequently became her husband), Patrizio Bertelli, the two recognised the need to secure
a distinction for the brand. With a highly localised distribution network, dependence
upon third party products and with no recognisable design signature, she recognised
the need to offer a radical and different proposition within the luxury goods sector.

Phase Title

1 Search for a differential
2 Establishing a growth platform
3 Aspiration and acquisition
4 Retrenchment and consolidation

Table I.
The four phases of

prada’s brand evolution

Evolution
of a luxury

brand

919

Bertelli’s family business was also in the leather accessories market and through the
integration of his production capability and Miuccia’s creative expertise; the
groundwork for the creation of an international luxury Group was set (Prada, 2009).

In the early 1980s Miuccia began work on an utilitarian collection luggage collection
that was stark yet technically advanced. Totes, holdalls and backpacks made from
industrial black nylon cloth were developed and these were branded clearly but discretely.
The black triangle shape of the Prada insignia placed against the black of the nylon
provided an understated but potent branding device. These new products, distinct both in
its design and branding, were a startling counterpoint to the logo-branding excesses and
the ostentations product designs that dominated the luxury market at the time.
Furthermore, in promotion of the range, Miuccia drew from her academic background (she
has a PhD in Political Science) to claim an almost philosophical tone for the brand, placing
it as an intelligent and discerning alternative to the vacuous excesses of competing
businesses (Craven, 2008). As such, the brand was pitched to attract the cognoscenti rather
than the celebrity-pack. By 1984/1985, her hardwearing, subtly branded nylon bags had
generated not only significant demand, but also fashion credibility.

Miuccia Prada’s utilitarianism, combined with an ethos of sophistication, technical
competence and controlled extravagance provided Prada with a differential in the
crowded luxury goods sector. This is explained by Bertelli: “To be Prada is to be
perfect in every way. The process of making a contemporary product demands a new
level of commitment to both handicraft and technology” (Prada, 2009, p. 90).

Phase 2: establishing the growth platform
Having developed a new, modern and highly distinctive accessories collection, Miuccia
in collaboration with her husband, Bertelli, sought to put in place the elements critical
for the future international development of the Prada brand. The starting point was to
secure wholesale accounts within the leading department stores and fashion boutiques
in the USA and Europe. This provided an opportunity to establish brand interest and
awareness at minimal cost and risk.

The next step was the creation of a new store design – one distinctly different in
terms of identity and feel from the Prada store in the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele.
Designed by the renowned architect Roberto Baciocchi and opened in 1983 at the Via
della Spiga in Milan, this store became known as The Green Store, by virtue of its
distinctive pale green colour scheme. Sleek, austere yet sophisticated, the Green Store
provided a blueprint for the opening of an international network of Prada stores.
Reminiscent of Hollander’s (1970) “New York. London, Paris syndrome”, the company
opened a fleet of “Prada Green” stores beginning in the New York in 1986, followed by
Paris, Madrid and London. A domestic store network was also established; the first
opening in Florence.

Yet, while the company developed its international store network based upon the “Prada
Green” concept, there was also recognition of its need to retain an individuality and distinct
character. Over the past 20 years the company has developed a particular perspective on
retail space which the company expressed in a series of maxims in 2009 as follows:

(1) Variety among stores: “Shops should not be identical”.

(2) A variety of spaces: “Prada can be big in small spaces. Nike can only be big
in large spaces”.

IJRDM
38,11/12

920

(3) “Space is a marketing tool”. A brand can convey a sense of exclusivity by the
perception of its store in the host country.

(4) “60 per cent of a business identity remains constant, while 40 per cent changes
continually”.

(5) The introduction of non-commercial typologies, “Cultural events could be
hosted in stores [. . .] Activities other than shopping could take place after store
hours” (Prada, 2009).

With strong customer demand established by the wholesale and retail network, Prada
recognised the opportunities to be had from extending the product range. Furthermore,
its new stores required additional product lines to fill the spaces. A womenswear line,
designed by Miuccia, was launched in 1988. The design handwriting of the womenswear
collection was consistent with the luggage and accessories lines. With a limited colour
palette and an emphasis upon the simplicity of the form, the range was distinctive for its
juxstaposition of fabrics and textures. The unexpected coupling of fabrics highlighted
the technical capability of the business and provided a justification for the high prices.

With its own factories and a large network of third party suppliers based across
Italy, Prada was able to extend its brand presence into adjacent product categories
with relative speed and ease.

In the five years after the launch of the womenswear line, the Prada brand was
extended to shoes, fashion accessories and menswear. By 1992, the company sought to
extend the coverage of its business through the launch of Miu Miu as a diffusion brand.
Named after Miuccia’s nickname, the second line – comprised of ready-to-wear, leather
accessories and shoes, was targeted at a younger, fashion-forward female customer.
Less expensive than the mainline collection and with a more vibrant colour identity,
the business replicated a similar development strategy as was adopted for the Prada
brand. Leading fashion stockists were recruited as wholesale stockists and an
international retail network of stores was rolled-out.

The push for growth was given further pace in 1997 with the launch of the Linea
Rossa (Red Line) collection. Ostensibly a leisure and sportswear line, Linea Rossa (the
premium line of the Prada Sport range) provided a showcase for Prada to showcase its
technical dexterity through the use of advanced performance fabrics created through
complex production techniques. This range, sold within Prada mainline stores, provided
a vehicle for the business to engage in sports participation and sponsorship, specifically
in the area of competitive sailing. By the end of the 1990s, Prada had transformed from
being a marginal, domestic and small-scale firm to a multi-national, multi-segment
business with a reputation as a leading influence upon fashion trends and consumer
taste. This transformation gave the business confidence and appetite to enter a further
phase of development – one driven by the aspiration to become a global luxury
conglomerate.

Third phase: aspiration and acquisition
An early indicator of Prada’s ambitions was evidenced in its acquisition of just over
9 per cent of Gucci shares in the summer of 1998. The company had no intention of
securing a control of Gucci but instead was participating in a defiant alliance with the
mighty Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessey (LVMH) group in the latter firm’s attempt to
secure Gucci. Prada sold its shares to LVMH the following January at a profit exceeding

Evolution
of a luxury

brand

921

$100 million (Weisman, 1999; The M&A Journal, 2002). Yet, while the LVMH aspirations
to secure the Gucci brand ultimately proved unsuccessful, this did not stop Prada and
LVMH collaborating once more in a luxury brand alliance. In October 1999, Prada joined
forces with LVMH (Menkes, 1999) to purchase a 51 per cent stake in Fendi, with the
Fendi family retaining the other 49 per cent. The Rome-based luxury goods company
had originally been an acquisition target of the Gucci Group. However, the Prada/LVMH
joint bid put paid to that aspiration. Subsequently, again Prada sold its 25.5 per cent
Fendi share stake to LVMH in November 2001 to give the French conglomerate full
ownership control (New York Times, 2001; LVMH Annual Report, 2002).

In parallel with these acquisition developments, Prada, perhaps encouraged by the
conglomerate development activities of its near rivals, Gucci, as well as its allies at
LVMH, sought to develop its own multi-brand strategy to enhance, support and
compliment the Prada and Miu Miu brands. A first independent acquisition was a
51 per cent stake in the New York based Helmut Lang brand in March 1999. The rational
for this purchase – which was increased to 100 per cent in 2004, was unclear. The brand
was small and relatively unknown. And while it was known for its use of high-tech
fabrics and complex designs, the value that it would bring to Prada was unclear. And
while Lang was recognised as a talented designer, other than the benefits available from
common sourcing and production, the Helmut Lang business was insufficient to provide
Prada with any meaningful protection from the vagaries of consumer taste. Further,
relations between Lang and Prada were strained from the beginning and within five
years, he had left the company. This purchase was then followed by its securing of a
75 per cent stake in August 1999 in the Jil Sander brand (Goldstein, 1999). The New York
Times reported that the acquisition would provide Prada with a stronger foothold within
the German market ( Jil Sander was born in Northern Germany) and would provide an
opportunity to combine stores. Perhaps most importantly, it provided access to the
design and creative talent of the brand’s founder. However, in many respects, the
features of Sander’s design character were very similar to that of Miuccia Prada. Both
were defined by an austerity and purity and each focused upon the use of premium
fabrics. If the House of Prada hoped to leverage Jil Sander’s design talent, then its hopes
were short-lived. Internal disputes between the designer and Bertelli resulted in her
resignation in four months after Prada’s acquisition. The relationship between Sander
and Bertelli improved sufficiently for her to return to the role of Creative Director in May
2003. Her return was short-lived however, and she left the business for a second time in
November 2004.

While Prada’s acquisition of fashion design brands did not prove successful, its
purchase of renowned shoe brands proved more successful. In addition to its purchase
of the upmarket Italian brand, The Car Shoe Company, Prada also secured ownership of
English shoe company, Church for £106 m in September 1999 (News.bbc.co.uk, 1999).
These acquisitions perhaps made more strategic sense. Both companies were well
established, enjoyed an excellent reputation for quality and were not linked to the
machinations of any particular creative director. Arguably, given the importance of
shoes to the Prada business, these two acquisitions provided access to complimentary
design, technical and production skill set that would serve only to enhance the Prada
core shoes business. Furthermore, it also allowed for a spreading of market risk across
two other brand territories.

IJRDM
38,11/12

922

As an international company, operating an ever-expanding network of stores, Prada
faced an important challenge. It recognised that store expansion inevitably results in
predictable duplication and that this undermines any claim of brand creativity. This
form of incremental expansion, the company recognised, could “reduces (brand) aura
and contributes to a sense of familiarity” (Prada, 2009, p. 420). More positively, the
company realised that expansion may also provide for a redefining of the brand and
produces the opportunity to introduce two kinds of stores: “the typical and the unique”.
Its unique store concept, they named the Epicentre store. Its function, according to Prada
was to “become a device that renews the brand by counteracting and destabilizing any
received notion of what Prada is, does, or will become” (Prada, 2009, p. 421).

The first Epicentre commission was given to the renowned Architect Rem Koolhaas,
of the office of metropolitan architecture (OMA). Prada commissioned Koolhaas to
review trends in global shopping, provide new concepts of new retail tools and apply
these to new kinds of stores. A total of three stores were created to be distinct from the
“Green Store” typology. These Epicentres were to serve as a …

The devil wears sustainable nylon, as Prada heir
makes his mark
Sanderson, Rachel . FT.com ; London (Jun 25, 2019).

ProQuest document link

ABSTRACT (ENGLISH)
[…]the 31-year-old eldest son of billionaire Prada owners and co-chief executives Miuccia Prada and Patrizio

Bertelli says a decade spent on the racetrack is the perfect preparation for the high-paced world of luxury goods. In

the first instance, it is launching six bags in a so-called Re-Nylon collection made using synthetic fabric from

recycled ocean plastic, fishing nets and textile industry waste. With social media upending luxury strategy,

communications and marketing has become the crucial department at the point of convergence between the

designer, big data and the consumer.

FULL TEXT
It is two years since Lorenzo Bertelli, heir to the Prada fashion fortune, switched between the seemingly

incongruous worlds of motorsport and luxury fashion by retiring as a racing-car driver to join the family firm.

But the 31-year-old eldest son of billionaire Prada owners and co-chief executives Miuccia Prada and Patrizio

Bertelli says a decade spent on the racetrack is the perfect preparation for the high-paced world of luxury goods.

“You learn to fall off and get up. It was a great school of life,” says Mr Bertelli of the years he spent travelling 200

days a year to compete as a professional Formula 2 rally driver —narrowly missing out once on winning a

championship.

“At the beginning people said ‘you are the son of…’” he recalls in his first face-to-face interview since entering the

family business. “But then I won a race in the world championships and I was judged as a driver in my own name.”

Marked out as the planned successor to his billionaire parents, who are 70 and 73 years old respectively, his role

as head of marketing and communications will be pivotal in turning the family business round. His unexpected

arrival has staunched speculation that the family could sell to a bigger rival, such as Swiss-listed Richemont.

It is also part of a wider generational change in Europe’s luxury goods dynasties. From LVMH to Salvatore

Ferragamo and Ermenegildo Zegna, younger, often millennial, offspring are taking on bigger roles at their family

companies.

Guido Corbetta, professor of family capitalism at Milan’s Bocconi University, says globalisation and technological

disruption had forced a change of guard as an older generation had struggled to keep pace.

The moves have coincided with a reassessment of the value of family groups amid a widespread collapse of faith

in Wall Street-style shareholder capitalism. A recent Credit Suisse report found that family-owned companies had

outperformed local peers by almost 5 per cent per year since 2006.

“I want to continue the family business,” says Mr Bertelli, who has an easy-going charm that contrasts with his

aloof, cerebral mother and combative father.

Joining the family company “was never imposed on me”, he says. He has a younger brother who is a sailor and so

far has remained outside the business. “I do not have a problem with taking myself out of the running if I find I am

not up to the job,” he adds.

His first high-profile step towards taking over the running of Prada, which also owns the Miu Miu, Church’s,

Marchesi and Car Shoe brands, was to this week unveil an eye-catching push into sustainability.

By 2021, Prada intends to substitute its entire nylon supply chain of 700,000 linear metres a year with a

sustainable version. In the first instance, it is launching six bags in a so-called Re-Nylon collection made using

synthetic fabric from recycled ocean plastic, fishing nets and textile industry waste.

Wearing a denim jacket from the Prada menswear range and seated in an all-white cube of a Prada office in

downtown Milan, he says: “Being a good entrepreneur means considering the social value first.” Images from his

mother’s catwalk shows hang on one wall.

Prada’s decision to reboot its nylon sourcing has significance beyond the ecological import. The Milanese fashion

house’s elevation of nylon into a luxury good defined its emergence as a cutting edge brand in the 1980s. It has

been seeking to reignite that “cool” factor with consumers after several years of falling sales.

Mr Bertelli calls the launch of the Re-Nylon products “the start of a new era”, adding: “It takes time to do things

well,” in a reference to Prada’s broader business turnround.

Hong Kong-listed Prada, which is 80 per cent owned by the family holding company, posted its first annual

increase in sales for five years in 2018. But the progress has since been rocky. Slower Chinese spending

contributed toan unexpected dropin like-for-like sales in the first quarter of this year.

Thomas Chauvet, analyst at Citi, downgraded Prada to a “sell” rating this month arguing it had “failed to deliver on

high hopes of brand rejuvenation”. Nonetheless, he noted that on a full-year 2021 price to earnings basis shares

still traded at a 50 per cent premium to the sector on expectations of a rebound in sales and profit margins.

Mr Bertelli’s rolewill be decisive as to whether the reboot works. With social media upending luxury strategy,

communications and marketing has become the crucial department at the point of convergence between the

designer, big data and the consumer. Ironically, it was his parents failure to spot the disrupting effect of

technology on luxury sales that caused Prada to lose some of its grip on consumers.

Sustainability has become a flashpoint in the luxury industry, according to consultants Bain. That is particularly

the case with Mr Bertelli’s fellow millennials who are driving industry growth by shopping on their smartphones for

the likes of €2,000 Prada Matinee handbags and €950 Prada Block combat-style boots.

Analysts also put the industry-leading success of brands such as Gucci down to sophisticated processing of big

data which gives immediate feedback on what consumers want, be it more sustainable fashion or thick-soled

sneakers.

Mr Bertelli is sceptical about being too data driven, arguing that if all the brands follow the same data they end up

sheeplike, all producing identical collections. He wants to renew a push to put Ms Prada, his award-winning mother

and one of the few remaining founder designers, front and centre.

“We need to have the courage to not just make decisions that are marketing driven. You need to use insights and

data to avoid big errors, to allow the creative space to create,” he says.

His latest role, he says, is part of a “comprehensive” path through the business agreed with his parents from

“valley” to “summit”. Although he declines to give a timeframe for when they plan for him to reach the top.

Before getting his new job, Mr Bertelli took his initial steps at the family business in another new frontier for new

luxury: haute food and beverage. Prada bought Milanese coffee and cake shop, Marchesi, in 2014, shortly after

LVMH was snapping up another Milanese coffee institution, Cova. Mr Bertelli says Marchesi will open 10 to 15

coffee stores in key cities. Last month, it opened in London’s Mayfair.

He says his father has also asked for his advice about Prada’s product lines targeting Generation Z buyers aged 20

to 25 years old: Linea Rossa, a sportswear brand relaunched last year, and the sneakers business.

The biggest influence from his parents, he says, came from growing up “in a house where I learnt a love of details

and a love of doing things in the right way. A love of beautiful things made well”. It is a quality, he argues, that is as

relevant to learning about a race-car engine as to a nylon knapsack made of fishing nets.

Crédito: Rachel Sanderson in Milan

DETAILS

LINKS
Find It at UW Madison

Subject: Parents &parenting; Sport fishing; Coffee; Fashion designers; Sustainability;

Tournaments &championships; Luxuries; Clothing industry; Big Data; Marketing;

Consumers; Family owned businesses; Succession planning; Capitalism

Business indexing term: Subject: Clothing industry Big Data Marketing Consumers Family owned businesses

Succession planning Capitalism; Industry: 54149 : Other Specialized Design Services

31192 : Coffee and Tea Manufacturing

Location: Europe

People: Bertelli, Lorenzo

Company / organization: Name: Prada SpA; NAICS: 316210, 316992, 316998, 448110, 448120

Classification: 54149: Other Specialized Design Services; 31192: Coffee and Tea Manufacturing

Publication title: FT.com; London

Publication year: 2019

Publication date: Jun 25, 2019

Publisher: The Financial Times Limited

Place of publication: London

Country of publication: United Kingdom, London

Publication subject: Business And Economics

Source type: Trade Journal

Language of publication: English

Document type: News

ProQuest document ID: 2246535490

Document URL: https://ezproxy.library.wisc.edu/login?url=https://www.proquest.com/trade-

journals/devil-wears-sustainable-nylon-as-prada-heir-

makes/docview/2246535490/se-2?accountid=465

Copyright: Copyright The Financial Times Limited Jun 25, 2019

Last updated: 2021-09-11

Database: Business Premium Collection,International Newsstream,Global Newsstream

Database copyright  2021 ProQuest LLC. All rights reserved.
Terms and Conditions Contact ProQuest

  • The devil wears sustainable nylon, as Prada heir makes his mark

Independent Research Project Part 2: Annotated Bibliography

1. Moore, Christopher M., and Stephen A. Doyle. “The Evolution of a Luxury Brand: The Case of Prada.” International Journal of Retail & Distribution Management 38, no. 11/12 (2010): 915–27.

In this article, Moore examines the nature and form of fashion retailing in Europe and focuses on the transformation of Prada, which demonstrates the development of fashion and luxury, and the attempt to market through nylon as anti-fashion. This is an important basis for my study of the development of nylon in fashion and fashions.

2. Sanderson, Rachel. “The Devil Wears Sustainable Nylon, as Prada Heir Makes His Mark.” Subscribe to read | Financial Times. Financial Times, June 25, 2019. https://www.ft.com/content/df20b7b2-9669-11e9-9573-ee5cbb98ed36.

URL: https://www.ft.com/content/df20b7b2-9669-11e9-9573-ee5cbb98ed36

In this article, Rachel examines how Prada’s successor, Lorenzo Bertelli, has taken over and run Prada. One of the biggest changes was the reintroduction of nylon, making the introduction of Re-Nylon products the beginning of a new era. This was an important basis for my research into Re-Nylon as a development of nylon textiles and its significance for ecology.

3. Rydell, Robert W. “Nylon: The Story of a Fashion Revolution. by Susannah Handley. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2000. 192 Pp. Photographs, Notes, Bibliography, Index. Cloth, $29.95. ISBN 0-801-86325-2.: Business History Review.” Cambridge Core. Cambridge University Press, December 13, 2011. https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/business-history-review/article/nylon-the-story-of-a-fashion-revolution-by-susannah-handley-baltimore-johns-hopkins-university-press-2000-192-pp-photographs-notes-bibliography-index-cloth-2995-isbn-0801863252/3D9BBB2852C4BAC560D8FCEEB00AAA2D.

In this article, Robert argues that politics and economics have driven the resurgence of synthetic materials. Nylon, as a substitute for silk, soared with the political and economic changes. This is an important basis for my research into the reasons for the creation of nylon and the changing application of synthetics in apparel.

4. “Floor Trends – Aquafil’s Regenerated Nylon Offers Architects and Designers New Solutions.” Econyl, January 7, 2020. https://www.econyl.com/press/floor-trends-aquafils-regenerated-nylon-offers-architects-and-designers-new-solutions/.

In this article, recycled nylon is made from waste materials, saving a lot of raw materials and reducing CO2 emissions compared to virgin nylon. This shows that recycled nylon is a new material that will be developed in the future. This is the basis for my research on the development of nylon and its importance to human beings.

5. Audra J. Wolfe was the associate director of the Roy Eddleman Institute and editor in chief of Chemical Heritage (now Distillations). “Nylon: A Revolution in Textiles.” Science History Institute, May 8, 2019. https://www.sciencehistory.org/distillations/nylon-a-revolution-in-textiles.

In this article, Audra describes the development and manufacture of nylon, which was used extensively in women’s stockings in the 1990s and subsequently in military applications. This demonstrates the importance of nylon. Subsequently, nylon was used in fashion, which is closely related to luxury goods. This is an important basis for my research on the timeline of nylon development.

URL: https://www.sciencehistory.org/distillations/nylon-a-revolution-in-textiles

6. PRADA NYLON FARM. PradaGroup. Accessed November 23, 2021. https://www.pradagroup.com/en/perspectives/stories/sezione-know-how/prada-nylon.html.

URL: https://www.prada.com/us/en/pradasphere/special-projects/2018/nylon-farm.html

This film truly shows how Prada’s signature material, nylon, is made. The production of nylon requires not only original artisanal skills, but also cutting-edge technology. I can compare the latest nylon technology now with the previous technology and conclude that nylon has developed and progressed.

I
n September, at the
third annual Green
Carpet Fashion
Awards Italia, fiber
producer Aquafil

provided a design showstop-
per—a sustainable carpet
made with Econyl regener-
ated nylon that is created
from discarded fishing nets
and other nylon waste.
Covering Milan’s Piazza
della Scala, the green carpet
spanned more than 21,000
square feet and welcomed
celebrity guests including
Vogue editor-in-chief Anna
Wintour, fashion designer
Stella McCartney, actor

Colin Firth and actress
Sophia Loren.

The event celebrated fash-
ion houses’ commitment to
sustainability as they work to
embrace rapid change while
preserving the heritage and
authenticity of small-scale
producers. As in previous
years, the Econyl carpet was
produced in collaboration
with the Danish Company,
European manufacturer Ege
Carpets, and for the second
year, designed by Vogue
Editor Hamish Bowles.

“We are privileged to
partner with the Green
Carpet Fashion Awards

Italia for the third year run-
ning”, said Giulio Bonazzi,
Aquafil president and CEO
“Honoring the endless possi-
bilities offered by our Econyl
regenerated nylon, which
can be used both in fashion
and design, Aquafil is turn-
ing a waste problem into
exceptional solutions.”

Each year in the U.S., four
billion pounds of carpet
is tossed in landfills. Most
carpets are made primarily
from finite resources such as
oil-based plastics that could
be recycled, yet only 5% of
carpet waste is recycled. To
tackle the issue, Aquafil’s

Econyl fiber is 100% regen-
erated nylon yarn from
waste that is used widely in
commercial carpeting. To
make its fiber, the company
rescues waste from a number
of sources including fishing
nets, carpets, fabric scraps
and industrial plastic.

To help these recycled
fibers, Aquafil has a carpet
recycling plant in Phoenix
that opened in 2018 and has
the capacity to collect and

aQUaFiL WriTEs a nEW sTOrY
ECOnYL rEgEnEraTEd nYLOn OFFErs OFFErs
arCHiTECTs and dEsignErs nEW sOLUTiOns

Above: The NeoCon 2019
Plaza featured carpet tile
designed and supplied by
Interface and made with
Econyl yarn.

28 December 2019 + floortrendsmag.com

treat 35 million pounds of
carpet each year. Econyl con-
tributes to LEED v4 points
in four main categories:

Integrative Process
Aquafil shares its knowl-

edge and experience creating
sustainable materials with
project teams to collectively
enhance human comfort and
environmental benefits.
• Indoor Environmental

Quality—Econyl is a low-
VOC emitting material.

• Materials and Resources—
In terms of Building Life
Cycle Impact Reduction,
Econyl has an 80% reduc-
tion on global warming
potential compared to
virgin nylon. And regarding
Sourcing of Raw Materials,

Econyl comes from 100%
waste material of which a
minimum of 50% post-
consumer waste is certified.

• Innovation—Econyl fos-
ters advancement of the
circular economy through
nylon regeneration, going
beyond recycling.

“Today, about 55 million
pounds of fiber are used in
the fashion and apparel busi-
ness,” Bonazzi said. “If we do
nothing, in 10 or 20 years,
this number will be at least
three times bigger. There are
market studies that say that if
we continue like that today,
the emissions coming from
the fashion industry account
between two to 3% of the
global initiatives and it could

be between 25 to 30% in
few years. We believe that if
we wanted to have a bright
future, we have to make
products in a different way.”

The company reports that
for every 10,000 tons of
Econyl raw material, 70,000
barrels of crude oil are saved,
and 57,100 tons of CO2
equivalent emissions are
avoided. Econyl is also UL
and Cradle-to-Cradle certified.

Since the carpet industry
takes so much inspiration
from fashion, the companies
must take a leading position
in changing their ways.

“We have to work together
with the carpet industry to
start collecting carpets from
the end user,” said Franco
Rossi, Aquafil USA presi-

dent. “If we start making
carpets in a different way so
that the life is a little easier,
it will mean a cost over
lower cost and bigger possi-
bility for turnover. To date,
the carpet industry has been
a little resistant to the idea,
but I think we are going to
change with time. We will
realize that for carpet to
become great again, it needs
to look at the future and
not at the past—as it does
now.” ft

Above: Inspired by Leonardo Da
Vinci in the 500th anniversary
year of his death, Econyl
carpet covering Piazza della
Scala paid homage the artist’s
aesthetic, which draws on his
exquisite works and Renaissance
tapestries.

floortrendsmag.com + December 2019 29

Reproduced with permission of copyright owner. Further reproduction
prohibited without permission.

Review

Reviewed Work(s): Nylon: The Story of a Fashion Revolution by Susannah Handley

Review by: Robert W. Rydell

Source: The Business History Review , Spring, 2001, Vol. 75, No. 1, Computers and
Communications Networks (Spring, 2001), pp. 210-212

Published by: The President and Fellows of Harvard College

Stable URL: https://www.jstor.org/stable/3116573

JSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide
range of content in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and
facilitate new forms of scholarship. For more information about JSTOR, please contact [email protected]

Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of the Terms & Conditions of Use, available at

Terms and Conditions of Use

is collaborating with JSTOR to digitize, preserve and extend access to The Business History
Review

This content downloaded from
������������128.104.46.196 on Mon, 06 Dec 2021 16:47:15 UTC�������������

All use subject to https://about.jstor.org/terms

Book Reviews / 210 Book Reviews / 210

technological choice generally. Here he provides a useful analysis of
California’s 1990 legislation, creating a mass market for so-called zero-
emission vehicles, as well as automobile makers’ varied responses. Fi-
nally, Kirsch frames several policy insights, responding to the general
concern that technological “lock in” can occur prematurely and freeze
out promising designs. Perhaps Kirsch’s sensible consideration of a
“failed” technology will upend the truism that influential policy is de-
rived only from “successful” technologies.

Thomas J. Misa is associate professor of history at Illinois Institute of
Technology in Chicago. His book, A Nation of Steel: The Making of
Moder America, 1865-1925 (1995) was awarded the Society for the
History of Technology’s Dexter Prize. He is presently finishing a wide-
ranging interpretation of technology and social and cultural change
since the Renaissance.

Nylon: The Story of a Fashion Revolution. By Susannah Handley. Bal-
timore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2000. 192 pp. Photographs,
notes, bibliography, index. Cloth, $29.95. ISBN 0-801-86325-2.

Reviewed by Robert W. Rydell

During the twentieth century, according to Susannah Handley, a “silent
synthetic revolution” occurred that transformed social and economic
relations around the world. At the cutting edge of this revolution was
nylon, a synthetic substance that the Du Pont Company took eleven
years to research and develop before exhibiting it at the 1939 San
Francisco and New York world’s fairs. Nylon, Handley tells us, was im-
portant because it allowed the company to polish up the tarnished rep-
utation it had acquired as a “merchant of death,” following its shady
munitions dealings during the First World War. The new fabric also
profoundly altered the way people represented themselves through
fashion.

How did nylon weave its way into the fiber of global cultures? The
story begins with long-standing efforts by European merchants to
break the Chinese silk-production monopoly. By the early nineteenth
century, chemists were becoming convinced that a quasi-synthetic sub-
stitute could be produced. By the close of the century, these dreams
had become reality. In 1904, the English firm Samuel Courtauld and
Co. gained exclusive rights to the “viscose” process of producing
artificial silk. Then, in 1910, the Du Pont Company in the United

technological choice generally. Here he provides a useful analysis of
California’s 1990 legislation, creating a mass market for so-called zero-
emission vehicles, as well as automobile makers’ varied responses. Fi-
nally, Kirsch frames several policy insights, responding to the general
concern that technological “lock in” can occur prematurely and freeze
out promising designs. Perhaps Kirsch’s sensible consideration of a
“failed” technology will upend the truism that influential policy is de-
rived only from “successful” technologies.

Thomas J. Misa is associate professor of history at Illinois Institute of
Technology in Chicago. His book, A Nation of Steel: The Making of
Moder America, 1865-1925 (1995) was awarded the Society for the
History of Technology’s Dexter Prize. He is presently finishing a wide-
ranging interpretation of technology and social and cultural change
since the Renaissance.

Nylon: The Story of a Fashion Revolution. By Susannah Handley. Bal-
timore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2000. 192 pp. Photographs,
notes, bibliography, index. Cloth, $29.95. ISBN 0-801-86325-2.

Reviewed by Robert W. Rydell

During the twentieth century, according to Susannah Handley, a “silent
synthetic revolution” occurred that transformed social and economic
relations around the world. At the cutting edge of this revolution was
nylon, a synthetic substance that the Du Pont Company took eleven
years to research and develop before exhibiting it at the 1939 San
Francisco and New York world’s fairs. Nylon, Handley tells us, was im-
portant because it allowed the company to polish up the tarnished rep-
utation it had acquired as a “merchant of death,” following its shady
munitions dealings during the First World War. The new fabric also
profoundly altered the way people represented themselves through
fashion.

How did nylon weave its way into the fiber of global cultures? The
story begins with long-standing efforts by European merchants to
break the Chinese silk-production monopoly. By the early nineteenth
century, chemists were becoming convinced that a quasi-synthetic sub-
stitute could be produced. By the close of the century, these dreams
had become reality. In 1904, the English firm Samuel Courtauld and
Co. gained exclusive rights to the “viscose” process of producing
artificial silk. Then, in 1910, the Du Pont Company in the United

This content downloaded from
������������128.104.46.196 on Mon, 06 Dec 2021 16:47:15 UTC�������������

All use subject to https://about.jstor.org/terms

Book Reviews / 211

States began devoting its considerable resources to improving the Cor-
tauld product. Fifteen years later, Du Pont coined the name “rayon”
for its product and began to expand the markets for its array of under-
garments and clothing accessories to the masses of ordinary Americans.

Although it was an important step toward “the promised chemical-
clothes utopia” (p. 28), rayon, at base, still depended upon chemically
reconstituted organic matter for its production. The final step toward
synthetics manufactured by humans occurred in the pure science divi-
sion of Du Pont. First established in 1924 by Charles Stine, Du Pont’s
chemical director, the pure science division acquired the talents of
Wallace Hume Carothers from Harvard. With a small fortune in unre-

stricted, in-house research dollars at his disposal, Carothers’ lab first
produced a synthetic fiber in 1934. Three years later, Du Pont filed for
a patent. The timing, as Handley makes clear, was perfect.

At the time of this synthetic fiber’s discovery, the popular press was
heaping scorn on Du Pont and other munitions makers, calling them
“merchants of death.” Fearing a public relations disaster, Du Pont
turned to advertising impresario Bruce Barton for advice. Barton’s
company came up with a new slogan for Du Pont, “Better Things for
Better Living … Through Chemistry,” and encouraged Du Pont to
spend $650,000 to clean up its sullied public image. The scheme they
concocted was brilliant. Armed with Carothers’ discovery, Du Pont de-
clared war on imported silk, promising American women indepen-
dence from foreign, primarily Japanese, producers. Du Pont launched
a two-pronged attack. First, the company worked to coin a catchy name
for its product, jettisoning some 400 suggestions before settling on “ny-
lon.” Second, they began to promote it in the context of futuristic vi-
sions of a technological and scientific utopia that animated the world’s
fairs of the 1930s. Their efforts paid off. On May 15, 1940, or “N-Day,”
nylon stockings were distributed to national retailers, and 780,000 pairs
were sold over the course of one day. The nylon revolution had arrived.

Over the next three decades, synthetic fabrics became a mainstay
of American culture. Equally important, as Handley’s fine account
makes clear, was the upward mobility of synthetics, as they rose from
the lowly status of material for undergarments to the heights of Pari-
sian couture. Even more impressive is the author’s account of how this
utopian fabric simply fell out of fashion by the close of the 1970s, as a
“back-to-nature” movement generated a backlash, sending the postwar
synthetics industry into a tailspin from which it is only just beginning to
recover. What about the future of synthetics? Handley concludes her
book with a revealing investigation of the pioneering research, initiated

This content downloaded from
������������128.104.46.196 on Mon, 06 Dec 2021 16:47:15 UTC�������������

All use subject to https://about.jstor.org/terms

Book Reviews / 212 Book Reviews / 212

by Japanese industrialists and fashion designers, into microfibers,
which are already propelling people around the world to buy “smart
clothes.” Among the advantages of this new category is their capacity to
ward off harmful magnetic fields and offer protection from microbial
infections.

These projected changes in fashion, Handley argues, and I agree,
are not terribly far-fetched, especially in a world that values technolog-
ical and scientific solutions to problems that are often political and eco-
nomic. Handley concludes with this observation: “the sickness of the
twentieth century is the deadening uniformity of things, the spreading

homogeneity and the shrinking choice that has accompanied global
mass production” (p. 181). She is pretty much on target, but I would
maintain that the sickness to which she refers is of a second-order vari-

ety. The real sickness is not so much the “deadening uniformity of
things,” but the political economy that nurtures their production and
consumption. On this count, Handley’s otherwise fine book falls short,
especially as she shifts her analysis toward synthetic fashions at the end
of the twentieth century. What political and economic forces are driv-
ing the resurgence of synthetics? What about the social and political
spaces occupied by fashion models and the fashion industry? These
criticisms notwithstanding, Handley has produced an impressive book
that deserves a wide audience among business and cultural historians.

Robert W Rydell is professor of history at Montana State University-
Bozeman. He has written many books and articles about world’s fairs,
including Fair America: World’s Fairs in the United States (2000),
which he coauthored with John E. Findling and Kimberly D. Pelle.

Henry Rand Hatfield: Humanist, Scholar, and Accounting Educator.
By Stephen A. Zeff. Stamford, Conn.: JAI Press, 2000. Cloth, $89.00.
ISBN 0-762-30622-X.

Reviewed by Richard Vangermeersch

Accounting is a field of numbers, not of names, and accounting text-
books may leave students with the impression that the field has devel-
oped without the intervention of individuals. Few accountants are fa-
miliar with Henry Rand Hatfield, a leading accounting scholar in the
United States during the first forty years of the twentieth century.
Stephen A. Zeff took up the challenge of critiquing the life and writings
of a man whose name would be recognized by very few Americans.

by Japanese industrialists and fashion designers, into microfibers,
which are already propelling people around the world to buy “smart
clothes.” Among the advantages of this new category is their capacity to
ward off harmful magnetic fields and offer protection from microbial
infections.

These projected changes in fashion, Handley argues, and I agree,
are not terribly far-fetched, especially in a world that values technolog-
ical and scientific solutions to problems that are often political and eco-
nomic. Handley concludes with this observation: “the sickness of the
twentieth century is the deadening uniformity of things, the spreading

homogeneity and the shrinking choice that has accompanied global
mass production” (p. 181). She is pretty much on target, but I would
maintain that the sickness to which she refers is of a second-order vari-

ety. The real sickness is not so much the “deadening uniformity of
things,” but the political economy that nurtures their production and
consumption. On this count, Handley’s otherwise fine book falls short,
especially as she shifts her analysis toward synthetic fashions at the end
of the twentieth century. What political and economic forces are driv-
ing the resurgence of synthetics? What about the social and political
spaces occupied by fashion models and the fashion industry? These
criticisms notwithstanding, Handley has produced an impressive book
that deserves a wide audience among business and cultural historians.

Robert W Rydell is professor of history at Montana State University-
Bozeman. He has written many books and articles about world’s fairs,
including Fair America: World’s Fairs in the United States (2000),
which he coauthored with John E. Findling and Kimberly D. Pelle.

Henry Rand Hatfield: Humanist, Scholar, and Accounting Educator.
By Stephen A. Zeff. Stamford, Conn.: JAI Press, 2000. Cloth, $89.00.
ISBN 0-762-30622-X.

Reviewed by Richard Vangermeersch

Accounting is a field of numbers, not of names, and accounting text-
books may leave students with the impression that the field has devel-
oped without the intervention of individuals. Few accountants are fa-
miliar with Henry Rand Hatfield, a leading accounting scholar in the
United States during the first forty years of the twentieth century.
Stephen A. Zeff took up the challenge of critiquing the life and writings
of a man whose name would be recognized by very few Americans.

This content downloaded from
������������128.104.46.196 on Mon, 06 Dec 2021 16:47:15 UTC�������������

All use subject to https://about.jstor.org/terms

  • Contents
    • image 1
    • image 2
    • image 3
  • Issue Table of Contents
    • The Business History Review, Vol. 75, No. 1, Spring, 2001
      • Front Matter
      • Rendezvous with Information? Computers and Communications Networks in the United States: [Introduction] [pp.1-13]
      • Inventing Information Systems: The Systems Men and the Computer, 1950-1968 [pp.15-61]
      • Robert Noyce and Fairchild Semiconductor, 1957-1968 [pp.63-101]
      • Not Only Microsoft: The Maturing of the Personal Computer Software Industry, 1982-1995 [pp.103-145]
      • Government, Business, and the Making of the Internet [pp.147-176]
      • Announcements [p.177]
      • Book Reviews
        • untitled [pp.179-181]
        • untitled [pp.181-183]
        • untitled [pp.184-186]
        • untitled [pp.186-189]
        • untitled [pp.189-192]
        • untitled [pp.192-194]
        • untitled [pp.194-196]
        • untitled [pp.196-199]
        • untitled [pp.199-202]
        • untitled [pp.202-204]
        • untitled [pp.205-207]
        • untitled [pp.207-210]
        • untitled [pp.210-212]
        • untitled [pp.212-214]
        • untitled [pp.215-217]
        • untitled [pp.217-220]
        • untitled [pp.220-222]
        • untitled [pp.223-225]
        • untitled [pp.225-227]
        • untitled [pp.228-230]
        • untitled [pp.230-232]
        • untitled [pp.232-235]
        • untitled [pp.235-239]
        • untitled [pp.239-241]
        • untitled [pp.242-244]
        • untitled [pp.244-247]
        • untitled [pp.247-248]
        • untitled [pp.248-251]
        • untitled [pp.251-254]
        • untitled [pp.254-257]
        • untitled [pp.257-260]
      • Back Matter
error: Content is protected !!