One of my more recent sad, first-world experiences was losing my luggage between New York and Toronto. The small roller case unfortunately contained a few of my more treasured items. Chief among them was a pair of Prada shoes that I owned for two years but which still prompted buyer’s remorse. I needed many more miles on them to reach a satisfactory ROI as I wore them sparingly.

While the airline was sympathetic and provided a fair settlement for future flights, I was out my shoes. I am sure you have formed the impression that I am loyal to luxury. Actually, not so, I am more an unabashed prep. The Prada shoes were an anomaly and were not replaced.

Recently, I spotted the new Prada spring collection ad campaign in an airport and was drawn in by the richness of the photography and the bold, primary colors that adorn the models. This okprada-ss14-women-s-adv.-campaign-2-495827_0x440prompted me to visit their site. The content and architecture is not what you would normally expect. Most apparel companies or online retailers come across as brash and direct in their desire to have you fill a shopping cart and pay with a credit card. Luxury by its nature is not a mass proposition. The higher prices and limited quantities exist to build desire and return healthy margins.

What you will find on the Prada site is more lifestyle than online store. This is no big surprise or revelation. What is interesting is how they are doing it. Of course, they feature their fashions but amazing emphasis is given to “projects” that include The Prada Journal, Production Movies, and Dress Gatsby. There is also a movie by Roman Polanski starring Helena Bonham Carter and Ben Kingsley. The film called, A Therapy, is presented by Prada.

prada-candy-250x340The number of events they have thrown is staggering. These are not just the expected runway shows but inventive high theater. There is also the brilliantly laid out Prada Book brimming with beautiful images but is basically a clever catalogue that one buys. Then there is Curate, “a unique award launched by Fondazione Prada and the Qatar Museums Authority, is a global search for curatorial talent.” Somewhat off topic is Prada’s investment in the Luna Rossa Challenge. It is an Italian sailboat racing syndicate, created to compete for the America’s Cup with Prada as a sponsor. I had to mention it as a mediocre sailor.

What they are doing is telling a story in a highly unique way. Visits to the sites of Louis Vuitton and Gucci reveal a shockingly traditional retailing approach. You are there to shop with little frills or fanfare. On Gucci’s homepage the boring architecture is: women, men, kids, gifts. Then there is a strategic error of huge proportions. They have a section called “sales”! This is not good. It trains people to wait for discounts which is a no-no in luxury.

Prada-–-Spazzolato-Dress-Slip-OnsWith Prada you are immersed in their world. It is an experience meant to convey an artful exclusivity. After all, luxury for all soon ceases to be luxury. Prada tells a more creative brand story to protect its margins while challenging the status quo. There is an enticing mystique to the content and presentation. It draws you in and invites you to be a character. Every brand is a story and Prada knows this. I just hope the guy wearing my lost shoes has some appreciation of the story behind them.