Brand focus: The rise of iconic Italian fashion house Fendi

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There are some designer fashion labels that have long been established as style leaders the world over, becoming synonymous with the utmost in glamour and sophistication – and from Chanel to Gucci, Balenciaga to Prada, you’d be hard pressed to find a fashion-conscious soul on this planet who hadn’t heard of them.

One such brand is Italian fashion house, Fendi. Associated with Karl Lagerfeld, also of Chanel fame, this iconic name is the definition of fun in the fashion world, and has repeatedly pushed the boundaries to bring exciting, extravagant and utterly in-your-face trends to the catwalk.

In stark contrast to Chanel, which is known for its understated Parisian-chic, Fendi is loud, proud and entirely unapologetic about the lot. Known for its stylish ‘baguette’ handbags – a model still as coveted today as ever and regularly seen on the arms of supermodels and world-famous celebrities – it was founded by Adele and Edoardo Fendi back in 1925, and has continued to move with the times and forever remain several steps ahead of the game.

Founded by her grandparents Edoardo and Adele in 1925, Fendi is now led by Silvia Venturini Fendi – creator of the iconic ‘Baguette’ bag. Image credit: Sorbis/

Even then, operating from its base in glamorous Rome, it wasn’t long before the brand won great acclaim, a meteoric rise to prominence ensuing and placing it firmly on the fashion map. Located on the trendy Via del Plebiscito at the heart of the city, Fendi began life as a small and medium leather goods shop. Success came quickly, and it wasn’t long before Edoardo and Adele’s five daughters decided to join the family business – bringing new energy, ideas, and that all-important youthful approach that elevated it to all new heights.

In 1965, the sisters invited German designer Lagerfeld to join the house – and it was then that the brand began to achieve its true potential, becoming the name on everyone’s lips in fashion circles at Europe and causing scuffles for the front row seats at each of its seasonal catwalk shows.

Perhaps somewhat controversially, Fendi is known for its unapologetic use of fur – something which has not gone down well with animal loving fashionistas and animal rights organisations. In 1997, Naomi Campbell was notably dismissed from her role as ambassador for animal rights group, PETA, after she was seen sporting a fur ensemble by the brand.

Since its 1925 founding, Fendi has created a legacy that exudes deluxe Italian craftsmanship and fearless style. Image credit: Casimiro/

Nonetheless, the brand has a legion of loyal fans today with Silvia Venturini Fendi representing the family’s third generations, providing artistic direction, and overseeing areas including menswear, childrenswear and accessories.

Becoming an unforgettable name in the fashion world goes beyond just producing quality garments that push the boundaries of design, and a big stunt never fails to get the right people’s attention.

In Fendi’s case, that meant transforming the Great Wall of China into a catwalk on 19th October, 2007 – a day that would go down in fashion history and is still widely talked about in fashion circles today. It wasn’t just the location itself that was off-the-wall (if you’ll excuse the pun) – it was also the first fashion show visible from the moon. How many fashion houses can make a claim as bold as that?

fendi store london
Today, the brand is a social status symbol just as much as it is a fashion phenomenon. Image credit: chrisimages/

Since then, Fendi has continued its rule of the catwalk, never failing to stun onlookers at the latest fashion week with its quality Italian pieces that, without fail, are trendsetters for the season ahead. Today, the brand is a social status symbol just as much as it is a fashion phenomenon – if you see somebody carrying a Fendi handbag, you just know they’re well-to-do – but going beyond that, it’s a sign of excellent taste and a keen eye for quality, too.

So, what comes next for a name that has already achieved such global acclaim? We’ll have to wait and see. But as Fendi prepares to celebrate 100 years in business, one thing we do know is that its network of boutiques is changing in order to accentuate and celebrate its heritage and contemporaneity.

Whatever is to come, one thing is certain: Fendi isn’t going anywhere. A name etched into the minds of the style conscious forever, it remains one of the leading fashion houses in the world – and with such highly respected designers remaining at its helm, we can only expect to see it go from strength to strength.

Image credit at the very top of the article: kobby_dagan/

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