Miuccia Prada is a busy woman, taking care of Prada, Miu Miu and Prada cult-favourite athleisure line Linea Rossa, or Prada Sport as it is technically called in English. With its latest collaboration with adidas Football, which brought back three boot silhouettes – the Predator, Copa Pure and X Crazyfast – continues to prove that Linea Rossa brings fashion and Italian craftsmanship to the pitch like no other. While Linea Rossa’s range is often rooted in hyper-modern, futuristic silhouettes, propelling past looks into the future, its history traces back earlier than you may think.
IT ALL STARTED WITH A NYLON BACKPACK
Linea Rossa officially launched in 1997, but the making of the sportswear line had been in the works since Miuccia joined the family-owned brand in the late 70s, whether she was conscious of it or not. Before the now co-creative director joined the brand, Prada specialised in trunks and accessories, before Miuccia, alongside husband and business partner Patrizio Bertelli launched a womenswear line in the mid 80s. Though Mrs Prada’s revolutionary contribution was not a garment but an accessory: the 1984 Prada Nylon Backpack.
While nylon has become synonymous with the Prada brand today, back then the synthetic fabric went against the grain of luxury houses’ favoured fabrics. But Miuccia was onto something, as the backpack became an instant success. Then came Neil Barrett. Fresh out of Gucci, the designer who wrote to Bertelli himself, suggesting that Prada venture into menswear. The shot was shot and scored, as Barrett was appointed to lead the new line in 1995. Minimalist, innovative and futuristic-inspired aesthetic, similar to that of Miuccia’s nylon backpack, became the focus point for Linea Rossa which launched two years later.
A COMEBACK FOR FW18
Merging 90s sportswear with high-tech fabrics in an aesthetic that felt both sensual and practical, Linea Rossa was unlike any other sportswear line set out by fashion houses in the late 90s. However, due to an increase in trend-focused clientele, and a shift away from the athleisure aesthetic, Linea Rossa was eventually discontinued in the mid 00s. Spoiler alert – it didn’t stay dead.
With the rise of streetwear within high fashion in the mid 2010s and its heavy lean on sportswear, Linea Rossa was bound to come back, and Miuccia chose her FW18 show to make the announcement. The collection, which was heavily inspired by the 90s and the house’s own archives, featured a range of clothing with the long missed red stripe logo, emblematic to the sportswear line. What stood out even more though were the fabrics used. Miuccia being an innovator since the launch of nylon in high fashion, she included a variety of techwear-favourable materials, including microfiber Gore Tex Pro which was also water repellent and revisited the brand’s own Tela Tecnica fabric, renamed Pro after a dose of innovation. Safe to say, the only thing that bummed out fashion enthusiasts was the wait for these clothes to hit the stores.
THE COLOUR ROSSA
Fashion houses will often have their own branded colour, often times more powerful and identity-marking than a logo – think of Valentino’s Pink PP that coloured its entire FW23 collection or Tiffany & Co.’s Tiffany Blue. Well in Prada Linea Rossa’s case, the colour is rossa, or red for those of us who don’t speak Italian. More so than just a colour, the red stripe that can be found on shirt tops, sunglass temples and heel tabs of shoes, is representative of the sportswear line with its sleek, precise and instantly recognisable look that reflects the overall aesthetic.
UNDERSTANDING THE CULTURE
While Linea Rossa is technically based on sportswear – from creating high craftsmanship to collaborative adidas Football boots to America’s Cup sneakers and sailing boots worn by the Luna Rossa sailboat team – what makes it stand out so much in comparison to other luxury sportswear brands is its cultural impact. Linea Rossa was found worn by football fans whose only other dress form was limited to Stone Island and C.P. Company. It also quickly found its way into other subcultures that weren’t sports related but took style cues from sportswear, such as the UK drum & bass and garage scene. A testament to the success of the line, red Prada-marked products have been seen on the likes of A$AP Rocky and Willow Smith among others.
Perhaps the success of Linea Rossa can be attributed not only to its optimisso-futuristic aesthetic, but also to its campaign imagery that never misses. Whether it be the SS01 campaign shot by Phil Poynter which featured 150 identically and symmetrically-posed models or Winter 2022 ski ad campaign that captures a snowboarder seamlessly flying in the air, Linea Rossa’s campaign make you want to participate in sports, or at least look the par.
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