Fashion History: Fendi
Fashion Series #3: Each of their daughters had a different strength that added value to Fendi
Karl Lagerfeld once said:
“Improvise. Become more creative. Not because you have to but because you want to. Evolution is the secret for the next step.”
Evidently, this saying holds true to its meaning especially when we think about Fendi. The Fendi sisters and Lagerfeld contributed huge roles to the evolution of this Italian brand. It has become something more than just a family business.
It has escalated into a worldwide sensation that captured celebrities and fashion enthusiasts hearts. It is a luxury brand that holds value, elegance, and timeless pieces.
Fendi was founded in 1925 by Adele and Edoardo Fendi. Their business started as a fur and leather shop in Rome. As their business grew, they also built their own family where they had five daughters: Anna, Franca, Alda, Carola, and Paola (via Fashion in Time).
In 1946, Edoardo passed away so Fendi continued under the management of his wife and five daughters. Funny enough, Edoardo and Adele wanted their kids to be part of the family business. Lucky for them, it worked out in their favor because each of their daughters had a different strength that added value to Fendi.
After the passing of Edoardo Fendi, Paolo (the oldest daughter) took over as the new president of Fendi. Paolo was described as a down-to-earth, practical, and organized leader. Someone who had an entrepreneurial mindset that could take Fendi in different directions.
In 1965, the Fendi sisters hired Karl Lagerfeld who was in his 30s at the time. He was hired to be their freelancer for their creative team after his name was mentioned through a mutual PR friend. Eventually, Lagerfeld became the creative director of the luxury’s fur and women’s ready-to-wear collection in 1977 (via Harper’s Bazaar and Fashion in Time).
13 years later, Adele Fendi passed away and her daughters have also established their strengths at Fendi too. According to LoveToKnow, Paolo was usually interested in furs, Anna had a preference in leather goods, and Franca handled customer relations. While Carloa coordinated the business side of Fendi and Alda was responsible for sales.
In the 1980s, Fendi was established as an exclusive circle among top luxury brands. Therefore, they needed a logo that represented Fendi and brought more meaning to the brand. The iconic double F logo was designed by Karl Lagerfeld and the double F’s stood for “fun furs.” (via LVMH)
In the 1990s, the Fendi sisters and Lagerfeld put extra focused on the brand’s materials and products. They wanted to add more value to their brand by presenting higher quality products to their clients.
Later in the 1990s, Silvia Venturini Fendi joined her aunts at the fashion house to help with the artistic direction with Lagerfeld (via LVMH). In 1994, Paola Fendi handed the president position over to her sister Carloa. That same year, Silvia took over the position of creative director for the accessories and men’s fashion line.
In 1997, Silvia created the Fendi Baguette, which is known to be a small purse that’s made with high-quality materials with a timeless design. It’s versatile in many ways too. Little did anyone know that the Baguette would become a staple in the fashion world, the “It bag,” and one of Fendi’s best creations (via LVMH).
In October 1999, LVMH (the world’s largest luxury goods company) and Prada bought 51% of Fendi and left 49% to the Fendi sisters. Unfortunately, in the early 2000s, Fendi lost (roughly) 20 million Euros which caused a bit of trouble to their business.
So, in 2001, LVMH bought Prada’s holdings to gain control of Fendi. By gaining the “extra” control over the brand, it would hopefully help Fendi recover from its financial losses and potentially lead them in a better direction. (Los Angeles Times, 2001)
In 2014, Fendi began to use drones for their fashion shows to better the experience for their audience. In 2017, they created and launched their e-commerce platform that makes and sells “made-to-order” handbags for their customers.
After the passing of Karl Lagerfeld in 2019, his position as the artistic director of the women’s collections was taken over by Kim Jones. He is the first person outside of the Fendi family to join a prominent role since Lagerfeld (via Instyle).
Fendi has played one of the most prominent roles in the fashion industry for almost 100 years. As evidence shows, this brand has continued to grow and develop into something that is timeless and holds so much history in the fashion world. It’s safe to say that Fendi still ranks as one of the most respectable brands in the fashion industry.