Italian Handbags - a Case Study: FENDI

The great thing about Italian handmade handbags is not just the superior construction process, high quality materials and better design, it is also about the unique history and identity that define a brand over decades. This is just one of the reasons why boutique brands are preferable to mass produced products. Here is a case study of one of the most legendary Italian fashion houses: Fendi.

The reality is that even the most unique Italian fashion labels are now corporate to at least some extent, some being very large companies that reach a wide audience. The great thing about the Italian brands, however, is that they still manage to retain individuality and a unique identity. Sure, the likes of Italian design greats such as Prada, Gucci and Ferragamo no longer operate out of small backstreet workshops, but there are great Italian brands that still retain a sense craftsmanship and passion. There is no finer example than Fendi.

When was Fendi established?

The business that would go on to be called Fendi was established in 1918 by Adele Casagrande. The company took her spouse’s name when Casagrande married her husband Edoardo. Together, they would go on to open shops in Rome and Veneto in the 1920s and 1930s. Famed for top quality leather and fur goods, the brand earned a reputation for excellence, forming the foundation for a fashion house that would go on to achieve legendary status.

Why did it become an Icon of Italian Fashion?

Fendi initially established itself as a premium quality handbag and clothing designer in the 1920s and 1930s, but what makes it so notable is its longevity and evolutionary process. In 1965, a young Karl Lagerfeld joined as creative director and would transition the brand from one era into another, placing Fendi at the cutting edge of Italian fashion. With prêt-à-porter products like handbags, suitcases perfumes and coats, Fendi was propelled into a must have, exclusive brand.

What makes it Special?

Fendi was a family owned business right from its inception in 1918 until the early 2000s. The Fendi family still retains a 10% stake in the company. The family has always led the business through its different generations, initially with Adele Casagrande herself, followed by her daughters who would drive the creative process throughout the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s. At that point Lagerfeld took the helm as creative director – a role which he still occupies to this day. In 1993, another Fendi family member, Silvia Venturini Fendi, took control of the creative process for accessories and menswear.

This family element ensures a style, approach and mind-set that is often lost as great fashion houses grow, maintaining a unique and inimitable style – one that is uncompromising and undiluted by outside interests. Style for style’s sake reigns supreme.

The Baguette Handbag

The latest generation is responsible for the iconic Baguette handbag, which became the first “must have” handbag ever, and propelled the handbag from an accessory into a work of art. If you have ever watched Sex in the City¸ you will know what I’m talking about.

A fashion house should retain the values and outlook that inspired its existence in the first place: a love for style and unashamed pursuit of design simply for design’s sake. Fendi, for nearly a century, has managed this. The Fendi women over three generations have not just guided this iconic brand throughout different stages of fashion evolution, but helped define it.

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