What the Pandemic Taught Prada About the Future of Fashion

What Happened: In a world first, Prada, under the direction of Raf Simons and Miuccia Prada, presented its Spring 2022 Womenswear Collection simultaneously in Milan and Shanghai. According to the show notes, this season aimed to “disturb” and “reconsider” historical garments such as corsets and trains, making them relevant for today’s woman. It was a much bolder line-up too, with oversized leather jackets, skirts, mini dresses, and evening gowns sent down runways in both cities. Post-event, leftover materials from the China show will be donated to Dandelion Child Development Center, a non-profit Shanghai organization that recycles materials to build libraries for children in rural and urban areas. 

Prada showcases its Spring 2022 collection in Milan. Photo: Courtesy of Prada

The Jing Take: The pandemic has certainly made the world a smaller place thanks to the acceleration of digital. Given this, many major luxury houses this season have chosen to stick to online schedules, continuing their experimentation in the cyber world, which we now know is without borders, time zones, and color. We now have metaverses where we can come together and dress up, or simply hang out. But we have found limitations and substituting a digital representation for a live show — no matter how it’s packaged — always fails to adequately replicate the spectacle of a live fashion show. 

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Prada has understood the importance of this physical connection, especially when it comes to China, which is still cut off from the rest of the world. Here, it aimed to bring two groups together, on both sides of the world, in what it termed “a modern community.” Colleagues who have not been in the same “room” for years could now see each other mirrored on the big screen — half a world meeting another half — or a giant “zoom” call with China on one side, Italy on the other. 

The reaction in the rooms? Overwhelmingly positive on both sides. For us watching online, at home, a little less so. It was still a runway with a room full of people, watching models, and screens. However, the journey has just begun and this was a technical exploration of what divides the physical and the digital. At the beginning of the pandemic, we attempted to make the physical world into a digital world. Now we are remaking the digital in the physical. 

The Jing Take reports on a piece of the leading news and presents our editorial team’s analysis of the key implications for the luxury industry. In the recurring column, we analyze everything from product drops and mergers to heated debate sprouting on Chinese social media.