Fashion Home

History of the Hero: The Prada nylon bags


In 2022, Prada’s nylon bags are still just as covetable as they were 40 years ago. In fact, they have truly gained a place alongside Hermès’ BirkinMulberry’s Alexa, and Fendi’s Baguette in the handbag hall of fame.

And, there seems to be no stopping its revival – Prada’s Re-nylon Re-edition 2000 mini bag has been named as Lyst’s ‘Handbag of the Year’ for 2022, after searches increased by 131 per cent this summer, while views for #pradanylonbag on TikTok generated over 4.2 million views.

Since Prada first released its unconventional ‘Pocono’ nylon bags in 1984, the brand has pushed to prove that practicality and luxury can go hand-in-hand, and that performance fabrics do have a place in the fashion sphere.

Post-lockdown, a functional wardrobe is now a must and casual has become cool again – as the fashion set has shown with a new streetwear-inspired uniform of bucket hatstrainers and tracksuits. And, Prada’s nylon bag is the perfect accessory to add to the mix; whether you’re looking for a pre-loved gem or to invest in the brand’s freshest drop this season, here’s everything you need to know about the iconic range.


The history of Prada nylon bags

Created in 1984, the Vela backpack was the first product released as part of Miuccia Prada’s innovative nylon range. The industrial-style bag, complete with D-ring fastenings and the brand’s signature triangular metal logo, was distinctive and unique compared to the conventional leather bags luxury brands such as Louis Vuitton and Chanel were producing at the time. And it was even a radical move for Prada itself, who had become known for its conservative retro cuts and signature Saffiano leather accessories.

The water-resistant ‘Pocono’ was previously used to make Italian military tents in WWII and had only ever been adopted by fashion as a lining fabric. However, the quality, heavy-duty nylon intrigued traditional but experimental Miuccia Prada, and won the brand a younger audience that was untapped by her predecessors.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Prada Archive (@prada.archive)

Despite the initial buzz, Prada’s nylon range, which diverted from its traditional house codes, struggled to maintain momentum in the crowded luxury market. However, the brand’s pivot into sportswear, with its Prada Sport line launching in 1998, secured another wave of success. The collection showcased highly functional athleisure wear, which saw the brand’s impeccable tailoring replicated in performance fabrics such as Gore-Tex and nylon.

The nylon bag in particular had a renaissance in the 2010s, thanks to the rise of streetwear and niche Nineties trends sparked by resale sites like Depop and Wavey Garms. Soon, celebrities and influencers were showcasing their vintage bags on Instagram and at fashion weeks across the world. In fact, in the past three years alone, searches for Prada nylon bags have increased by 815 per cent – a spike undeniably helped along by Kim Kardashian, who was photographed carrying the brand’s messenger satchel back in 2017.

Prada even continued to thrive throughout lockdown, as a result of an unprecedented creative partnership between Miuccia Prada and Raf Simons, and a series of hotly anticipated live-streamed catwalks. Today, nylon is still a mainstay within Prada’s collections and has helped cement the brand as a designer label to watch.

What makes Prada nylon bags so iconic?

The simple silhouettes of Prada’s nylon shoulder bags, and the more recently released chained-crossbody, strike the perfect balance between experimental and classic.

Over 30 years since nylon was introduced into the luxury market, popularity for the technical fabrics are still growing, thanks to streetwear trends that came to the fore in the 2010s. In fact, menswear athleisure brands such as VetementsYeezy and Off-White have been incorporating nylon into their ready-to-wear collections for the past decade.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by elsa❤️ (@hoskelsa)

This season in particular, the resurgence of Noughties-inspired fashion and the Y2K trend has bombarded the runways – from Miu Miu’s mini skirts to Versace’s kitsch butterfly tops. And Prada’s Re-Edition 2000 and 2005 nylon bags are the perfect complementary accessory. The redesign saw the addition of Saffiano leather handles and ruched detailing, as well as the introduction of brighter colourways alongside the staple black. Now there’s nude, powder blue, pastel-pink, and chilli-red shades available to name a few. The true Noughties favourites were the Mini shoulder bags, and the addition of petite coin pouches and attachable longer chain straps means this style is now more functional than ever.

Prada’s most recent renaissance saw an evolution of the classic ‘Pocono’ in its 2019 Re-Nylon campaign. The signature styles remained but the brand upped its game and switched out the synthetic nylon material for Econyl – a cleaner, more sustainable alternative, made from recycled materials such as fishing nets and industrial plastic waste.

Who wears Prada nylon bags?

Although first designed in the late-Eighties, cult-status really came for the Vela backpack and its nylon relatives in the Nineties. Off-duty models such as Kate Moss and Naomi Campbell paraded their totes and structured holdalls everywhere they went, proving they were the ultimate travel it-bag.


In 2022, the Mini bag is the accessory to be seen with. Its thick strap, statement shape and simple zip closure is loved by the most stylish of the fashion crowd including Kendall JennerBella HadidDua Lipa and Kaia Gerber.


Plus, nylon looks have become somewhat of a status symbol on the red carpet too, with celebrities showing that the fabric is more relevant than ever in this new era of smart/casual dressing. Frank Ocean shunned traditional tailoring for a Prada anorak at the 2019 Met Gala, while Sarah Paulson accessorised a neon green Prada gown with a matching drawstring pouch for the Ocean’s 8 premiere the year prior.


From Harper’s Bazaar UK

You Might Also Like

%d bloggers like this: