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Unless you followed its iconic 90th anniversary couture show in Rome last summer, you probably haven't heard too much about Fendi in the mainstream news lately; but that doesn’t mean the fashion house hasn’t been a highly influential presence in the industry. In fact, Fendi was the first fashion brand ever to produce an “It” bag. How does Fendi pull off its subtle yet undeniable knack for innovation time and time again? And what makes the brand so cutting edge?
The beginning of a legacy
Fendi began in 1925 as a family-run fur and leather shop in Rome, Italy. The company was passed down generations before creative director Karl Lagerfeld joined in 1965. Karl spearheaded the Fur and Women’s Ready-to-Wear lines that launched in 1977, and helped take the brand in an inspiring new creative direction. The influence that Karl Lagerfeld’s direction had on Fendi was immense, and served to be the single most pivotal strategic move the brand has ever made. Karl’s relationship to the brand is widely known as the longest standing collaboration in fashion history. It’s said that throughout the course of his 50+ years of being creative director, Karl has worked on a total of over 50,000 sketches for Fendi!
The first "It" bag
Fendi experienced a pivotal moment in the brand’s history when it released the iconic baguette bag in 1997. The baguette, named for its likeness to the French bread, was designed by Silvia Venturini Fendi and came in just about every combination of colors, embellishments, and must-have limited edition models a girl could imagine. Unparalleled with over a thousand style variations, the baguette took the fashion world by storm. Its versatility as an easy, portable daytime bag turned under-the-arm evening clutch made the Fendi baguette a staple in every woman’s wardrobe. It was compact, cute, and it was everywhere.
The Fendi baguette may be small, but its impact was nothing of the sort. The bag’s popularity grew exponentially after being featured in an episode of Sex and the City. Protagonist Carrie Bradshaw’s eye-catching arm candy not only got people talking, but it’s credited with single-handedly solidifying SATC as a fashion-oriented show. After gaining traction from the show, the Fendi baguette became the first “It” bag to grace the fashion community. Behold: a new standard of handbag beauty.
Besides designer handbags, Fendi is chiefly known for its stunning use of fur in its various product lines. Everything from gloves, glasses, scarves, shoes, hats, jeans, ties, and even bicycles proudly carry the Fendi name.
Today, Fendi is known for its extravagant, breathtaking shows and for its ability to craft interesting, fresh statement pieces. You might remember the iconic couture show that took place at Trevi Fountain, which served as a dramatic backdrop for Fendi's ethereal and elegant 2016 pieces. Complete with a Plexiglas catwalk, the show turned heads as the models appeared to walk on water. Then, in an unprecedented move in 2014, Fendi broke ground when it introduced the concept of a live-streaming catwalk show via the use of overhead drones. In a never-before done feat, fashion lovers everywhere could experience the joy and awe of what being at a Fendi show is like up close.
The impact Fendi has had on the fashion community is undeniable. From its exquisite style, to its cutting edge industry firsts, the name has become synonymous with "trend setter."