‘Youth is the future’: gen Z should be celebrated, says Prada

They have been been ridiculed as snowflakes and “too woke” by some, but Prada’s co-creative designers think gen Z are a generation to be celebrated.

Speaking backstage after their latest menswear show, which took place on Sunday afternoon at the Prada Foundation in Milan, Miuccia Prada said: “Youth is the future. It is hope. We wanted to do something that would express youthful optimism because the times are so bad.”

Raf Simons, who joined Prada as co-creative director of the brand in 2020, said when creating the collection, the duo “wanted to think like the fresh minds of the youth. Sometimes, when you get older, you overthink and limit yourself. When you are young, you just go. And we like that spirit.”

The show’s set featured a large white hut that pulsated with purple strobe lighting, as equally pulsating music, including Faithless’s track Insomnia, blared throughout the venue. Each model emerged from the hut before making their way down a white Perspex staircase that turned into a catwalk that snaked around guests, who included the actor Joe Alwyn, the rapper Dave and the tennis star Venus Williams.

A T-shirt featuring the work of artist Bernard Buffet at Prada’s menswear show. Photograph: WWD/Getty Images

Simons said they wanted the collection to look “like clothes you already live with”, and had taken inspiration from the way teenagers borrow and steal items from their parents and even grandparents. “It’s very much about the freedom to let things come together. That’s a very youth spirit.”

Purposefully creased suiting and exaggerated proportions, including long trousers and jackets with cropped sleeves alongside aged leathers, reflected “imperfection, another sign of living, of reality”.

The lenses of mirrored sunglasses were painted to depict “different realities and nostalgic memories” such as scenes from the Italian coastline, while worn-in cotton T-shirts like those bought at gig merchandise stands featured prints from the French expressionist artist Bernard Buffet, including some from his series focused on elongated and sorrowful faces.

Trousers with a deceptive belt motif at Prada’s show. Photograph: WWD/Getty Images

Some of the clothing was specious in appearance. Trousers featured belt motifs rather than actual belts. Contrasting coloured collars on neat jumpers were in fact not standalone, but stitched to look separate. Hems featured hidden wires to add an “unreal dynamism, as if alive themselves”.

Simons said the idea was “more playing on fake than faking. It’s clothes you need to see up close and then they might surprise you. You might think you see heavy wool trousers with a belt but then you’ll see it’s in fact a light cotton trouser painted to look like heavy wool and the belt can’t be taken off.”

“Today, fake is a very contemporary point,” added Prada. “What is fake? What is the truth?”

But while many pieces were an illusion, Prada was keen to stress the collection wasn’t about escapism. “I don’t want to escape. Escapism I don’t like in general. You shouldn’t escape from reality and what is happening.”

On Saturday, Fendi’s creative director, Silvia Venturini Fendi, was also in a reflective mood. As the Italian mega-brand gears up to celebrate its 100th anniversary next year, Venturini Fendi said she had been thinking about the past, present and future of the house.

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Delving into its archives, Venturini Fendi homed in on a photograph of the Italian national football squad headed to the 1984 European football championship, in particular the crest on their suit jackets and the symbolism of teamwork that a crest evokes.

For Fendi’s new house crest, Venturini Fendi chose a tetrad of images, including an squirrel as a nod to her grandparents who founded the house in 1925. “My grandfather used to give my grandmother little paintings of squirrels, saying she was like one, always so busy.”

There was also a motif of the Roman god Janus. “He looks to the past and the future,” said Venturini Fendi. “That is what Fendi is all about. Preserving techniques but also experimenting. It’s our mantra.”

A jumper featuring Fendi’s new crest at its menswear spring/summer 2025 show. Photograph: Pietro D’Aprano/Getty Images

Giant mirrored columns that spun around the catwalk, creating multiple images of the models, further played on the idea of reflection.

The collection riffed on the traditional formal codes of clubwear. Shirts were styled untucked over shorts, neat club ties were rolled and pinned, while diagonally buttoned knitwear showed flashes of flesh.

Venturini Fendi described it as “liberating”, saying “there’s nothing more interesting for me than seeing people that move well inside the clothes. Sometimes, it’s more of an attitude, you can see when people feel happy in what they wear.”


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