The company was started in 1913 by Mario Prada and his brother Martino as a leather goods shop – Fratelli Prada (English:Prada Brothers) – in Milan, Italy. Initially, the shop sold leather goods and imported English steamer trunks and handbags.
Mario Prada did not believe that women should have a role in business, and so he prevented female family members from entering into his company. Ironically, Mario's son harbored no interest in the business, so it was his daughter Luisa Prada who took the helm of Prada as his successor, and ran it for almost twenty years. Her own daughter, Miuccia Prada, joined the company in 1970, eventually taking over for her mother in 1978.
Miuccia began making waterproof backpacks out of Pocone. She met Patrizio Bertelli in 1977, an Italian who had begun his own leather goods business at the age of 17, and he joined the company soon after. He advised Miuccia—and she followed the advice—on better decisions for the Prada company. It was his advice to discontinue importing English goods and to change the existing luggage.