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The Man Behind Miuccia


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Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The Man Behind Miuccia

Did you see this article about Prada and Mr. Bertelli in The Wall Street Journal Magazine this weekend?

Very good but too short.

I would have loved for the writer to really dig deeper into the vision Mr. Bertelli has for the future of Prada.

I'm not into "conspiracy theories" but Mr.Bertelli bought and basically destroyed his nearest competition in Jil Sander and Helmut Lang. Some "analyst" think it was a huge debit-creating mistake on his part but I think it was genius to remove them from his retail/wholesale playing field.

I mean...if you can't beat'em, buy'em!
and then get rid of the namesake...and then sell them again!....Genius!

To be honest, at the end of the day, I don't think it was Mr. Bertelli being a crazy capitalist that created the drama but Jil and Helmut not wanting to give up control that ended this potential luxury mega-house.

Here is the link to the article
The Italian Job

Comments on "The Man Behind Miuccia"


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (9:21 PM) : 



Anonymous Anonymous said ... (9:42 PM) : 

hahaha i love it that you reference 30 rock!!!


Blogger muranogirl said ... (10:46 PM) : 

Yeah, Sart I too enjoyed the article and wished it had been longer.
Wish I had been a fly on the wall during his meeting with Neiman's.
Reality show indeed!


Blogger Alexander said ... (10:52 PM) : 

very interesting look into the lives of the couple behind Prada


Anonymous Enrique said ... (10:59 PM) : 

Collaborations are great especially if they involve people who are good in two seemingly different things like design and the business behind it.
Sparks happen when overlapping points are pursued and proper decisions are taken and then implemented. Bertelli made a great decision an kudos to him.


Blogger cynkan said ... (11:03 PM) : 

I totally agree!


Blogger Vy said ... (11:11 PM) : 

I'm curious to see what the standards of quality to both the people making products and the products themselves in these lower cost countries. Hopefully they are willing to disclose this.


Blogger Denmark said ... (11:36 PM) : 

I miss Helmut Lang. I loved his designs. I still buy Helmut Lang but it's not what it used to be...


Anonymous Wrenaissance Art said ... (11:54 PM) : 

I couldn't help but contrast the gentle courtliness of the Lauders' relationship highlighted in the same issue with the sturm-und-drang behavior of Bertelli and Prada.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (12:23 AM) : 

Prada is amazing. It's a great article!



Blogger vjperera said ... (12:32 AM) : 

What built these art/fashion houses is genius; what destroyed them is hardly. Any sick bastard can think of a scheme like that. It's reproachable to consider a ploy to destroy decades of beauty and hard work as "genius". The label "genius" is overused and misunderstood.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (12:35 AM) : 

your conspiracy theory is probably correct. it is commonplace in italian business to do so ... one of the reasons why many companies are still "Family run" is also because going public poses this risk. this cuts across the board to all industries, not solely fashion.

however like you also correctly pointed out it costs a lot to bleed a company and like hunting in the wild sometimes the injured predator does not survive. if he does though, he will come out stronger a-la-nietzsche style.

enjoying your snapshots as always :)



Blogger hydroxandhorlix said ... (1:13 AM) : 

i understand the tension between protecting the luxury status of a brand and yet surviving as a business, but bertelli really seems to want it both ways. he looks down upon the idea of selling his products to [heaven forbid] americans who may have taste but seek bargains, yet does not seem to aknowledge that that very market is the one that has allowed him to expand his business into the recognizeable empire it now is. certainly europe asia and the middle east may respresent that market now as well, but i would argue that those early boutiques on madison ave had no small part in creating it. and asking customers to "trust the brand" sounds a bit convenient in that it allows him to have/eat/cake by producing the goods cheaply [relatively] and charge prices the customers expect from handmade european production. designers want to promote values of elitism when their vast profits surely come from working professionals who seek quality but may also think about value. the article was really quite interesting and seems to expose some larger issues of class and consciousness that fashion while deeply embroiled in never seems to be able to overtly aknowledge.


Anonymous AnonymousJK said ... (1:51 AM) : 

Interesting article and I'm glad that finally a design house has admitted that their products are made in Asia, Romania etc. I wish LVMH, Gucci Grp etc would do likewise...


Blogger Caddy said ... (2:29 AM) : 

I found this article so interesting, and loved how they touched on their family and work life balance. The dynamic between Bertelli, Prada and their sons was enjoyable to read.


Anonymous Alizée G. said ... (3:28 AM) : 

i read between the lignes, because i don't understand very good but the best, he's fantastic and his face it's like the caracter of the big man, in the world of fashion !
Bisous, bisoius, Alizée G.


Blogger Ilaria said ... (5:08 AM) : 

Oh, and have you seen the article about the Prada shop manager who sacked her employers because they were too old or too fat and did not conform with the Prada look and obliged staff to buy Prada outfits with their own money? How does a shop manager's vision fit in with the firm's vision?


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (5:25 AM) : 

yeah, i have to say i agree with the last comment at 2.29 a.m.; there's lots buried in this article -- class, mega-capital, power...--and not just a nice relationship story. i too miss lang and sander. the whole idea of capitalism is competition--it can make you stronger, improve products--unfortunately when it's big fish eat little fish the competition in the arts starts to dwindle.


Anonymous Wrenaissance Art said ... (5:34 AM) : 

Hydrox and Horlix makes a very good point. Pricing on luxury fashion goods has outstripped their production value in my opinion in just the last decade.
Pret-a-porter has just about priced itself out of the range of the original audience of well-heeled professionals who couldn't afford couture, but appreciated the high-quality of French or Italian production and design.


Anonymous Catherine like Deneuve said ... (6:15 AM) : 

Alessandra Galloni is an excellent journalist who has covered Prada and other fashion houses from a mostly business perspective for years. She really knows her subject.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (7:05 AM) : 

With £1.51 billion in debt with two years' grace, *no* vision for the future of Prada will preclude carving up the house. Recovery is going too slowly and the company too bloated for a sudden bounce in fortunes. Not convinced that the IPO will do anything but pay interest and introduce new problems from minority sources. Bertelli can live with his head in the clouds (quite literally, commuting by helicopter) and play with his art, but VC managers are licking their lips at the prospects of carving up the Giving Tree.



Anonymous Kazuko said ... (7:27 AM) : 

He might be a brilliant business man. And I do love and admire miuccia's work. But to be honest I wouldn't want to deal with Mr. Bertelli after I've read the article.


Anonymous Giovanella said ... (7:38 AM) : 

i would go for the man INFRONT of Miuccia...


Anonymous Michael H said ... (9:15 AM) : 

Wow! It ALL works. Beautiful shot.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (10:47 AM) : 

I really do think he's an amazing bussinessman. People keep complaining about Sander and Lang, but he did what he had to do to eliminate opponents, even if it meant taking in a debt as big as the one they now have. I'm not saying getting rid of those designers was either good or bad, but that Bertelli was looking for his own fashion house, he wasn't going to put them before his own. The dynamic between Miuccia and Bertelli is amazing, I always enjoy reading about it, I've always found them both very honest, very straight forward, though I have to admit Bertelli is frightening!


Anonymous GMc said ... (10:58 AM) : 

Not to be too blunt, but it's pretty naive to think that "if you can't beat'em, buy'em" is a steadfast rule. Mergers are a numbers game, and if the company has been struggling to manage the enormous debt, then it sounds like they came up on the short end.

Of course, this is impossible to assess from an article that is a couple pages long. But it's really not as simple as removing them from the field = genius.


Blogger The Sartorialist said ... (11:01 AM) : 

for GMc
Don't you think I was joking a little bit


Blogger Ankur Khanna said ... (11:02 AM) : 

The willingness to be $1.5 billion in debt merely to eliminate competition seems a little far fetched. I think the reality is that Bertelli made a calculated move to expand the Prada empire by acquiring other companies but didn't have the knowledge or patience to see the expansion through. He's overrated if you ask me. And the fact that he is on the cover of the WSJ magazine somehow reeks of bankers trying to lure him into going public. Just a hunch.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (11:11 AM) : 

Photographed by Brigitte Lacombe
by the way...


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (11:17 AM) : 

I find Prada so irrevocably unfashionable, that I don't care either way.



Anonymous GMc said ... (11:20 AM) : 

Oh, certainly no insult was intended. And since you posted my comment, I suspect no insulted was received (or so I hope). But tone is tough decipher in text, particularly as we've never met and I don't know your type of humor.

So no, I didn't know if it was a joke or not. I retract my "naive" statement :)


Blogger Fashion Frenzy Online said ... (12:23 PM) : 

What a great post :)


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (12:48 PM) : 

VERY interesting article! I do also agree with Hydrox and Horlix. Thanks for sharing!


Anonymous Julie H said ... (2:07 PM) : 

Hello, I found this article after I read the Desiree Rogers' "exit interview" and original profile. I find the Bertelli/Prada duo to be intriguing.

I do agree with your opinion that the article could have been longer and addressed the future of Prada. I remember the article that caused Bertelli and Prada to be miffed about their house and its use or lack thereof the Internet -- it was Cathy Horyn's piece where she discussed Burberry and its/your Art of the Trench among other companies who were using their websites in innovative ways.

I find it perplexing that Bertelli/Prada like to discover new art, but that they can't embrace the web. I hope they will have someone to push them in that direction, much like how Robert Duffy was using Twitter during NYFW. But from the sounds of how Bertelli runs the company, such a person doesn't exist. Pity for them.


Blogger The Curator said ... (3:10 PM) : 

Forgive me. The man sounds like a complete and utter asshat. I wouldn't put up with him for a second.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (3:22 PM) : 

Prada is a sinking ship.

Does Bertelli really think consumers will pay the same prices for items manufactured in China? Please!


Anonymous Terry said ... (3:55 PM) : 

Hey Scott:
I know it's good business but being a designer myself it's very troubling that people operate like that. I truly believe there's enough cake for every one.

Best Regards
Terry Corbett


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (4:21 PM) : 

I like this blog post, for it's about the business side of fashion and thought provoking. Your blog is for grown-ups, for sure. It made me think of the documentary "The September Issue," which isn't so much about shoes and purses, but running a magazine as a serious business. Back to the article ... I liked it. The journalist doesn't judge but knows her subject. People are often too ready to assume the evil in all businessmen rather than acknowledging the drive, determination and hard work behind their success.


Blogger HAPPY BIRTHDAY said ... (7:53 PM) : 

Personally, I think it would have been awesome if the Prada Mega- company had worked. Helmut lang and Jil Sander, aside from Prada , in my opinion were the greatest designers at that time. So, if they had stayed on you would have had a real super power.

But, yeah, I guess Bertelli is too intense for some people...

Yeah, that article was too short, though.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (8:24 PM) : 

Neighboring this article was one about the couple behind the Eeste Lauder billion dollar label. If you read the Prada article, be sure to read the Eeste Lauder one, it provides a unique contrast to business sense and sensibility. I'll just say this:

I am much more inclined to buy from Eeste Lauder now, but cannot say the same for Prada.


Blogger Scorpion Disco said ... (11:15 PM) : 

well...thats how you end up with walmart and other conglomerates taking over entire sectors. Its clever on his behalf, but in the end, the guy with the most money wins, whether or not it is what the customer wants or the fashion world needs! Oui?



Blogger Scorpion Disco said ... (11:19 PM) : 

You know what Scott? (Can I call you Scott?) Lets do this more blogging is so much more than just posting pictures, I like this debate/opinion session!



Blogger Travis Wilds said ... (12:37 AM) : 

It IS hard to tell the tone of this post. On the one hand, you seem to be casting sarcasm on Bertelli's behavior, as if to call his tactics unscrupulous. On the other, you are placing the blame on the designers for being unreasonable.

It just sounds like you're weaseling out of taking a stand on the issue.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (2:17 AM) : 

what happened to this blog being about REAL people with REAL style, and not about fashion? lately i've seen a definite switch to a focus on the fashion side.

Bertelli rubbed me the wrong way in that article and i don't know why he would deserve a longer article. i can think of a lot of things i'd rather do than read about than that jerk. his language towards Tansky was disrespectful and uncalled for. also, what is with him putting down the greatest country in the world? "egocentric?" come off of it, Bertell- you're an ass.


Blogger Sylvia etc... said ... (4:25 AM) : 

Really enjoyed reading this article! thanks for sharing it. It's such a privilege to hear Bertelli's thoughts and understand them under the lines ... on a food note, made me really hungry ;-)


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (6:38 AM) : 

This Bertelli just sounds like a rude businessman - not a "genius." Why is he insulting the very Americans who are buying his products and keeping his business going? Is that smart in the midst of a recession? I'm just disappointed and insulted by the tone of his comments. I like Miuccia Prada, but this guy running her company is a complete boor. Ms. Prada - you can do better!


Blogger The Sartorialist said ... (9:16 PM) : 

for anon 2:17
when did i say this blog wasn't about fashion?

for me it isn't an either/or but both. i love fashion and will continue to write more about it as an art and business


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (9:40 PM) : 

Having read this article, and paying particular attention to the nuances of the statements and behaviours, ideas, and theories of Mr. Bertelli (none of least a non-spoken (but no less distinctive) ''praise' America by day and denounce her by night' tactic) leaves me no qualms whatsoever to very deliberately NOT spend my (very arrogant) American dollars on anything Prada.

Thank you for posting Sart.


Anonymous Space by Eliana Tomas said ... (8:06 AM) : 

greediness killed the cat, and if that's the case (and i believe so), what he forgot to think about was the rebirth! and jil herself is rebirthing beautifully and the brand jil sanders has been followed and wished by everyone in the fashion world. as i believe in life, rebirths are always stronger and invincible. greediness killed the cat.

side note: yes, i would love to read more about your point of view in fashion and style.


Blogger Rodika said ... (3:03 PM) : 

Great article, thanks for the post!


Blogger Happenstance said ... (5:20 PM) : 

Thanks for the link, can't wait to read it. When I worked for Prada there were a lot of "Mr. Bertelli" stories. But whether good or bad, they were stories of a successful business man in my eyes. You can always learn from either side of the coin.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (10:40 AM) : 

I think that it is interesting that the WSJ is publishing articles like this. I am a huge fan of Prada and I think it is great that a nationally recognized newspaper would do a story about a fashion icon.


Anonymous Zaihan K. said ... (4:27 PM) : 

Speaking of Helmut Lang and Bertelli, I think you might find this story by John Seabrook for The New Yorker on September 18, 2000 a most fascinating read, especially for the Lang fans.

I was 19 when I first walked into a Helmut Lang store. That was when Prada had bought over half of the brand, which resulted in new stores all over the world. So Bertelli did help bring Lang to his fans worldwide, including here in Singapore.

However, comparing what goes down the runway these past couple of years from the brand, and what I remembered hanging within alcoves built like rows of wardrobes back then, and the almost perfect small leather goods (that I nearly bought), is like comparing a good authentic gelato with store-brand ice-cream. They might look the same, but they just aren't.

Prada lost relevance to me as I grew up - I saw through the facade of mediocre design made to look exquisite. Gucci & LVMH followed.

I will always cringe a little when I think about losing the chance to own a Helmut Lang designed original Helmut Lang piece. So sad.

Capitalism and competition need to be tempered with better models of collaboration & cooperation - true symbiosis, not pretentious back scratching.


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