They said/We said: Miuccia Prada warns of Italy’s fashion industry becoming second rate. Could it happen?

Photography by Peter Stigter

Miuccia Prada isn’t exactly known for being all that press-friendly, and a rare interview with Italian newspaper La Repubblica may shed some light on why the legendary designer hasn’t warmed to the media in the same way chatterboxes Karl Lagerfeld and Roberto Cavalli have.

In a translation by WWD, Prada’s feature in La Repubblica details all her concerns about the flagging Italian fashion industry. More than any other nation, Italy has the most family-owned luxury fashion houses: Prada, Gucci, Missoni and Fendi are just a few brands that still have an active voice from the founding designers’ families. But with more and more Italian fashion houses looking to sell (Valentino sold to Qatar’s royal family for over $850 million) or to expand by going public with IPOs, Prada is worried Italian fashion may become “second league.”

“[…] If our brands cross our borders, the credit, glamour, fame and decision making is in the hands of others, and we are abandoned, downgraded,” she cautioned.

Prada doesn’t fault the designers themselves; after all, she shows Miu Miu in Paris because of the city’s “attraction that is called glamour,” and Raf Simons’ move from Jil Sander (which shows in Milan) to Parisian fashion house Dior will mean “his value will further be emphasized.”

According to Prada, the real culprits are the Italian media and left-leaning intellectuals. Journalists’ treatment of their nation’s fashion industry as “frivolous” instead of a relevant industry contributes to the view that Italy is seen as a place with “less resources, culture, protagonists, ideas, vitality and money,” meaning that like Simons, “fashion goes elsewhere, looking for the best.”

It’s hard to argue with the fact that journalists do function as a filtration device for the general public, and if Italian media is indeed painting fashion as a superficial, unimportant industry, then Prada’s concerns that Italian fashion labels could be degraded to mere manufacturing houses aren’t that farfetched.

This isn’t the first time media or information curators have been accused of downplaying fashion’s significance either: take the Kate Middleton wedding dress Wikipedia article for example, which we reported on earlier this month. The posting was immediately flagged for deletion, with Wikipedia contributors calling the article trivial (which of course the dress was anything but).

Do you think media coverage of the Italian fashion industry could really affect the way it’s viewed?

THEY SAID…

Matthew Zorpas, PR consultant: “‘Made In Italy’ reputation is no longer enough to sustain the industry […]” [Twitter]

Melissa Hoyer, entertainment editor: “Is Italian fashion dead?” [Twitter]

WE SAID…

Randi Bergman, online editor: “This problem exists in some form or another around the first world, but I can understand it being more than just an irritation and cause for actual concern in Italy given how important fashion is there. Last I heard, the fashion industry made up over a quarter of the country’s entire economy, which is no small feat, and given that this industry is steeped in quality, the barometer for it should remain at the highest level.”