BRAND STORIES

BRAND STORIES

The Fendi Bible

Everyone has heard of the Baguette! But, aside from its leading handbag, what else do you know about Fendi? After reading our brand guide, you will be an expert in the Italian fashion house.

Fendi was started by husband-and-wife Adele and Edoardo Fendi in 1925. It officially opened as a leather goods shop on Via del Plebiscito in Rome, Italy; though, it also housed a secret fur workshop. 

 

When Adele and Edoardo’s five daughters joined Fendi, it was established as a family fashion house. Referred to as both the ‘Fendi Five’ and ‘Five Fingers of the Hand’ (their mother lovingly called them this, as they each played an integral role in Fendi, which could not function without harmony among them all), Paola, Anna, Franca, Carla, and Alda each joined when they were between the ages of 15 and 18. With them, they brought young energy and fresh ideas. 

 

After their mother died in 1978, the five sisters each took over a different part of Fendi, specializing in their respective areas of interest and expertise. Paola focused on furs; Anna focused on design and licensing; Franca focused on purchasing; Carla focused on sales; and Alda focused on the workshop and atelier. While this worked for quite some time, inevitable disagreement and sibling rivalry eventually threatened the future of the family-owned house. 

 

With tensions at an all-time high, two competitors formed an unlikely alliance. Attracted by the high sales of Fendi’s latest accessory, the Baguette, two of fashion’s largest luxury conglomerates exploited the family discord to control a majority percentage of the Italian house. In 1999, LVMH and the Prada Group each purchased 25.5% of Fendi for a total of $850 million, outbidding another rival known as the Gucci Group. As part of the negotiation, the Fendi sisters maintained creative control. 

 

Just two years later, Prada ran into some financial difficulty and sold its stake in Fendi, ceding majority control to LVMH. Following this, LVMH continued buying the remaining stakes until it eventually owned 100% of Fendi. To preserve Fendi’s family lineage and Roman heritage (LVMH is a French-owned corporation), Anna’s daughter, Silvia Venturini Fendi, has stayed at the house. Throughout her tenure, she has served as an accessories designer and artistic director, using her position in the company to fund restoration projects around the city – starting with the relocation of the Fendi headquarters to Rome’s Palazzo della CiviltàItaliana, which was originally commissioned by the fascist dictator Benito Mussolini in 1943, but had since fallen into disrepair.

 

With Silvia Venturini Fendi carrying on the legacy, Fendi has largely been a female fashion dynasty; a matriarchal house, it has been designed by women and for women. That is, with one rather legendary exception. 

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Pin of historical photographs/pinterest

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Photo by Christian Vierig/Getty Images

Karl Lagerfeld, The Man Behind Fendi 

While Karl Lagerfeld is most famous for his work at Chanel, he actually spent more time at Fendi, designing for the house for a record 54 years! He once bragged, “No one has lived long enough to do it for such a long time, and I’m not tired of it at all.” 

 

Lagerfeld, who had previously designed for Jean Patou and Chloé, was hired by the ‘Fendi Five’ in 1965. After he was recommended by a mutual friend in PR at Krizia, they appointed him as a freelancer in Fendi’s fur department. As the only luxury label with an in-house fur atelier, they hoped he would refresh it with a more contemporary look. Lagerfeld was up for the task. 

 

During their first meeting, Lagerfeld sketched what is now Fendi’s iconic ‘FF’ logo, which is more formally known as the Zucca, in just five seconds. Little did he know, the inverted ‘Fs’ would completely invert Fendi, transforming it from a modest, Italian house into an internationally recognized mega brand on par with Louis Vuitton and Gucci – particularly in the 1980s and 1990s, and then again in 2018, when logomania was at its height. However, standing for ‘Fun Furs’ (and not the house’s name like many think), the logo was actually created to decorate the silk lining of Fendi’s fur coats, making them more playful and less austere. 

 

Starting with the double ‘Fs’, Lagerfeld revolutionized Fendi’s furs. He boldly experimented with groundbreaking techniques, shredding, pleating, weaving, knitting, dyeing, shaving, lightening, and gilding the exotic pelts to make them look less bourgeois and old-fashioned. Lagerfeld bluntly stated, “We are not doing basic mink coats. We are a thousand miles away from that.” He pushed the boundaries, setting Fendi apart from the traditional furriers. Under Lagerfeld, fur symbolized fantasy rather than status. 

 

Fur was not only fun, but also became an acceptable – even celebrated – form of creative expression. Though many other brands, like Gucci, Chanel, Burberry, and Prada, have decided to stop using fur for ethical reasons, Fendi has not and will not. Fur is divisive, but it is an important, defining part of Fendi’s heritage. As Lagerfeld unapologetically stated, “For me, fur is Fendi and Fendi is fur.” 

 

Aside from fur, Lagerfeld was also responsible for women’s ready-to-wear and haute couture at Fendi. While he did not stage as many extravagant shows as at Chanel, three have gone down in history. 

 

For an expansion of the Spring/Summer 2008 Ready-to-Wear collection, which was produced in Italy and sold in China, Lagerfeld brought Fendi to the Great Wall. He sent 88 models down a section of the 1,500-mile-long landmark, marking the first time it had ever been used as a runway and the first time a fashion show had ever been visible from the moon! The show took Fendi over one year to plan (though, it never did receive official approval to take place there) and cost around $10 million. 

 

In celebration of Fendi’s 90th anniversary and honor of its Roman roots, the house donated $2.4 million to the restoration of the Trevi Fountain and Lagerfeld held his Fall/Winter 2017 Haute Couture show on top of it. With the help of a plexiglass runway, which stretched across the pool, the models literally walked on water while flaunting his fur designs. At the end, as Lagerfeld took his final bow, he threw three coins into the fountain for good fortune. 

 

Though not as grand, Lagerfeld’s Fall/Winter 2019 Ready-to-Wear show will never be forgotten, as it was his last for Fendi. Leading up to its premiere, he worked diligently on it from his hospital bed, but unfortunately passed away on February 19, 2019, just two days before it was scheduled at Milan Fashion Week. While Lagerfeld was not there in person, he was in spirit. Fighting back tears, top models Gigi and Bella Hadid, Kaia Gerber, and Adwoa Aboah walked against a backdrop that was signed ‘Love KL’ and on a runway that was stitched with the brand’s Karligraphy logo – both in Lagerfeld’s own handwriting. The show ended with a video of Lagerfeld, sketching the outfit he wore to his first day at Fendi (a fedora from Cerruti, a Norfolk jacket in red-and-yellow tweed, a printed Lavalliere tie, French-style culottes, knee-high boots, and a bag from Milan). In his place, Silvia Venturini Fendi took a bow and made a closing remark. Echoing the same sentiment uttered by Lagerfeld after every show, she declared, “And now, the next!” It was the perfect tribute to Lagerfeld, who always looked forward and never back.  

 

The longest collaboration between a fashion house and designer had sadly come to an end. At Fendi two years longer than its founder Adele, Lagerfeld played an integral role in shaping its identity. He left behind numerous signatures, which are forever ingrained into its DNA, and over 70,000 sketches. 

 

Following Lagerfeld’s death, Silvia Venturini Fendi quietly took over his responsibilities, becoming the sole creative director at Fendi. 

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V magazine official website, Photo by Hedi Slimane

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Photo by WWD official website

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Fendi's fall 2016 Couture show in Rome. Photo by The New York Times T Magazine

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Photo by WWD official website

Silvia Venturini Fendi, A Third Generation Scion

Silvia Venturini Fendi’s first show without Karl Lagerfeld, Fall 2019/2020 Haute Couture, paid homage to him. To represent each year he worked for Fendi, 54 looks came down the runway, which was situated in the Temple of Venus atop the Palatine Hill (another historic monument that Fendi pledged almost $3 million to restore). Prior to his death, Lagerfeld helped pick the venue, where the lit up arches of the Colosseum served as a very stunning, very Roman backdrop; however, Venturini Fendi was in charge of the rest. In celebration of Lagerfeld’s contributions to the house, she designed half-fur looks that were inspired by the mosaics, stone, and marble that clad the structure, using sheared and printed strips to recreate the geometric look Lagerfeld had invented. Venturini Fendi not only proved she could carry on Lagerfeld’s great legacy, but also that she could add her own personal touch. In Fendi’s most diverse runway, she cast models of different ages, colors, and body types, insisting, “I am a woman now at the head of the creative studio. Women are multifaceted. I wanted to express this mystery of femininity through many different women, not just one type. When women design for other women, there is a sense of reality. Men can have an idea of women that isn’t related to our real lives. I wanted to talk about that with this show.” Naming the collection “The Dawn of Romanity,” it represented a new chapter for both Venturini Fendi and the fashion house. 

 

A third generation Fendi woman, Venturini Fendi started working at the family business around the same time as Lagerfeld. At just six years old, she had already starred in one of its advertisements, wearing a beaver bomber jacket and matching hat, and was regularly attending creative meetings alongside her mother. Lagerfeld once reflected, “I don’t remember Fendi without Silvia.” 

 

As a child, Venturini Fendi always wanted to be at the atelier. She hated the idea of studying, believing it to be a waste of time. To discourage her from dropping out, her mother and aunts gave her odd, undesirable jobs, like answering the phones, giftwrapping, and picking up sewing pins from the floor with a magnet. Venturini Fendi went on to, as she says, “just about finish” her education at schools in London and Rome, before eventually joining the family fashion empire. 

 

Venturini Fendi got her start at the house in the mid-1980s, when she launched Fendissime, the brand’s secondary line of sportswear, furs, and accessories, which was priced more affordably for younger buyers. She then proceeded by learning more aspects of the brand, managing its marketing department in Los Angeles and organizing its fashion shows. 

 

In 1994, Venturini Fendi was promoted to artistic director of accessories, menswear, and kidswear, sharing creative power with Lagerfeld. Under her, Fendi’s accessories department especially flourished. It became known for growing and shaping some of today’s most celebrated designers. Among them: Gucci’s Frida Giannini and Alessandro Michele, Dior’s Maria Grazia Chiuri, and Valentino’s Pierpaolo Piccioli. One of Venturini Fendi’s most famous designs also came out of the accessories department. Released in 1997, the Baguette, a slender bag that features a Zucca logo snap and short shoulder drop, was a pop culture phenomenon. After it appeared under the arm of everyone’s early- ‘00s style icon, Carrie Bradshaw, the Baguette instantly sold out, becoming the first-ever ‘IT bag’ and forming the first-ever waitlist. Though it later fell out of fashion for some time, it made its comeback in 2019, as part of Fendi’s #BaguetteFriendsForever campaign in which none other than Sarah Jessica Parker reprised her famous role. 

 

While Venturini Fendi has experienced much success at the house, her reign as its sole leader was only temporary. Over the last two years, she has been lauded for stepping up in a difficult time and bringing a strong female perspective to Fendi’s womenswear, fur, and haute couture; however, Spring/Summer 2021 was her final collection as creative director. As the last family member at Fendi, there was talk of her remaining in the position, but shortly before the show, it was announced that Kim Jones will step in to assume Lagerfeld’s former role and Venturini Fendi will return to hers. She voiced her support for the decision, remarking, “My warmest welcome to Kim, to whom I am bound by deep respect and friendship. I am looking forward to taking the Fendi universe to the next level with him.” 

 

Just like the late Lagerfeld, Kim Jones will divide his time between two major fashion houses, as he will maintain his position as the artistic director of Dior Men. The first time Jones will design for women, his appointment to Fendi has been met with excitement. The fashion community is eagerly awaiting Fall/Winter 2021, his breakout collection, to see how he interprets his signature mix of streetwear and luxury for the Fendi woman. 

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Photo by Fendi official

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Photo by Vogue official website

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Photo by Edward Berthelot/Getty Images

How to Tell If a Fendi Bag Is Real 

Arguably the most vigilant luxury brand, Fendi has been fighting fakes for decades. In an effort to combat counterfeiters and protect consumers, the fashion house has filed lawsuits against many companies for selling inauthentic Fendi-branded products, including Burlington Coat Factory (once in 1986, and again in 2006), Annie Sez, private sellers on Amazon and eBay, and Wal-Mart. As mass retailers strive to offer their customers more exclusive products, they have both knowingly and unknowingly financed criminal enterprises, selling knock-off Fendi bags for upwards of $500! Highlighting how widespread the counterfeit industry has become, Fendi has been motivated to take action and has been awarded millions of dollars in reparations (it is rumored that Fendi’s settlement with Wal-Mart was large enough to finance its runway show on the Great Wall of China!). 

 

While Fendi has removed a significant amount of counterfeit bags from the market, it is impossible to track them all down. Not to mention, following the house’s recent revival of its Zucca logo and Baguette bag, there has been another massive influx. 

 

Want to ensure the pre-loved Fendi bag you are about to buy is genuine? Just answer these simple questions, as asked by The Vintage Bar’s expert authenticators. 

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Photo by Edward Berthelot/Getty Images

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Photo by Christian Vierig/Getty Images

The ‘FF’ Logo

Though Fendi’s ‘FF’, or Zucca, logo was absentmindedly sketched by Karl Lagerfeld during his first meeting with the ‘Fendi Five’, it has since become the house’s most recognizable motif, covering everything from baby prams to bags. 

 

Fendi bags featuring the ‘FF’ logo are traditionally crafted of Jacquard canvas in the house’s signature tan and tobacco colorway; however, new variations have been introduced. Over the years, the logo has been stonewashed onto denim, dyed into fur, knitted into wool, and embellished with sequins. But, no matter how the ‘FF’ logo appears, it should always exhibit the same characteristics. 

 

When examining a bag’s Zucca logo, ask yourself these questions: 

  • Is the bag made of Jacquard canvas? Is the canvas woven tight? If the answers are yes, the bag might be authentic. If the threads are loose, the ‘FF’ logo will appear pixelated, signaling the bag is not real. 
  • Do both the exterior and interior of the bag feature the ‘FF’ logo? If the answer is no, the bag might be authentic. If the exterior material is detailed with the ‘FF’ logo, the interior lining should not be – and vice versa. 
  • Is each ‘FF’ pair, also known as a block, equally spaced from the others? If the answer is yes, the bag might be authentic. 
  • Is each block approximately the same size? If you were to stack them on top of each other, would they align? If the answers are yes, the bag might be authentic. 
  • Is the bag a vintage style? Are the blocks square in shape? If the answers are yes, the bag might be authentic. 
  • Is the bag a newer style? Are the blocks rectangular in shape? If the answers are yes, the bag might be authentic. 
  • Do the inverted ‘Fs’ in the same block touch? If the answer is no, the bag might be authentic. 
  • Do the inverted ‘Fs’ in the same block align? If the answer is no, the bag might be authentic. The middle arms of the ‘Fs’ should never sit directly across from each other; on a genuine Fendi bag, they are slightly staggered. 
  • Is the middle arm of each ‘F’ shorter than the top arm? If the answer is yes, the bag might be authentic. 

Hardware 

Every piece of hardware on a real Fendi bag is stamped with the brand’s identifiers – either FENDI, the ‘FF’ logo, FENDI MADE IN ITALY, or a combination of them. 

 

When assessing the hardware on a bag, ask yourself these questions: 

  • Is every piece of hardware on the bag branded with at least one of the identifiers? If the answer is yes, the bag might be authentic. The engravings might be hard to find, but on an original Fendi bag, they will be there. Be sure to check every side and the backs of the hardware pieces. 
  • Are the engravings neat, clear, and easy to read? If the answer is yes, the bag might be authentic. Even on the smallest pieces of hardware, they should never be wavy or blurry. 
  • Does the bag have a closure strap that is topped with the Zucca logo? Is the logo more rectangular and elongated than normal? Are the middle arms of the ‘Fs’ staggered? If the answers are yes, the bag might be authentic. This type of closure is standard on styles that close with a snap, as the strap conceals it. 
  • Is the bag a Baguette, Baguette Mamma, or Baguette Croissant ? Is the snap closure square in shape? If the answers are yes, the bag might be authentic. On these styles, it should never be circular. 
  • Is the bag from the mid- ‘00s? Does it have an interior zipper pocket? Does its zipper pull feature the ‘FF’ logo? If the answers are yes, the bag might be authentic. 
  • Is the bag from the mid- ‘00s? Does its main compartment have a zipper closure? Does its zipper pull feature the ‘FF’ logo? If the answers are yes, the bag might be authentic. 
  • No matter when the bag was produced, does the back of every zipper slider feature the ‘FF’ logo? If the answer is yes, the bag might be authentic. 

Interior Brand Tag 

There is a brand tag inside every original Fendi bag. Depending on the style of the bag and when it was produced, the tag is made of either leather or metal. While its material differs, the tag can always be found stitched onto the lining or interior pocket of the bag’s back wall. 

 

When evaluating the interior brand tag in a bag, ask yourself these questions: 

  • Is it crafted of metal? Does the color of the metal match the bag’s exterior and interior hardware? If the answers are yes, the bag might be authentic. 
  • Is it neatly stitched to the bag? If the answer is yes, the bag might be authentic. There should be no loose threads and each individual stitch should be approximately equal in length.
  • Is it embossed or engraved with FENDI, FENDI ROMA, or FENDI MADE IN ITALY? If the answer is yes, the bag might be authentic. As Fendi has changed its brand stamp more than once, the interior tag can be marked with any of these. 
  • Is the brand stamp neat, clear, and easy to read? If the answer is yes, the bag might be authentic. It should not be wavy or blurry. 

Serial Number 

Since 1980, Fendi has identified each bag with a serial number. However, as Fendi has changed the serial number’s location over the years, it cannot be found in the same place on every bag. In older styles, the serial number is printed in metallic foil directly onto the lining of the bag’s interior pocket; whereas, in newer styles, the serial number is either embossed onto the back of the bag’s interior brand tag or onto a narrow leather tag, which is most often stitched to one of the side seams in the bag’s interior pocket. Though its placement differs, the serial number always exhibits the same characteristics. It is important to take note of these, as most counterfeiters are savvy enough to include a serial number and its presence, therefore, does not guarantee a bag’s authenticity. 

 

When scrutinizing a bag’s serial number, ask yourself these questions: 

  • Is the bag missing a serial number altogether? If the answer is yes, the bag might still be authentic. Fendi did not issue serial numbers to bags produced before 1980, so very vintage styles should actually not have one. Also, the metallic foil used by Fendi is known for rubbing or flaking off with use, so it is quite possible the bag’s serial number has simply worn off over time. Take a closer look at the lining of the interior pocket in good light. If there is leftover adhesive, you might be able to decipher at least part of the bag’s serial number. 
  • Is the serial number between 15 and 17 characters long, consisting of a mixture of letters and numbers? If the answer is yes, the bag might be authentic.  
  • Are the letters and numbers arranged in groups that are separated by dots or dashes? If the answer is yes, the bag might be authentic.  
  • Is the serial number stitched onto a narrow fabric tag, which is located in the bag’s interior pocket? If the answer is no, the bag might be authentic. In this location, the tag should always be crafted of leather. 

Hologram or RFID Tag

Since Fendi introduced its unique hologram in 2004, serial numbers are no longer the only way to identify its bags. Located on a square, fabric tag, which is stitched to the interior lining near one of the bag’s bottom corners, the hologram has made Fendi’s bags harder to replicate. 

 

Further advancing its technology, Fendi replaced its hologram with Radio Frequency Identification, shortened to RFID, in 2010. RFID is found on the same type of tag and in the same location; however, instead of a hologram sticker, a small chip is secured in a pouch inside the tag. While a special device is required to read this chip, it can be scanned at any Fendi store, confirming the bag’s serial number, model, color, material, manufacturing details, and, ultimately, authenticity. 

 

When inspecting a bag’s hologram or RFID tag, ask yourself these questions: 

  • Does the bag not have either a hologram or RFID tag? If the answer is yes, the bag might still be authentic. Only bags made between 2004 and 2010 should have a hologram, and only bags made from 2010 to present should have a RFID tag. If it does not have either, it is because the bag predates these additional forms of authentication. 
  • Does the bag have both a hologram and RFID tag? If the answer is no, the bag might be authentic. RFID rendered the hologram irrelevant, so if a bag has both, it is definitely fake. 
  • Is there a series of letters and numbers stitched below the hologram sticker? If the answer is yes, the bag might be authentic. They should never be printed onto the tag. 
  • Are there eight numbers stitched onto the RFID tag? If the answer is yes, the bag might be authentic. Just like on the hologram tag, they should never be printed. 
  • Can you feel the chip inside the RFID tag? If the answer is yes, the bag might be authentic. Counterfeiters often include a RFID tag, but not a (fake) chip inside. 
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Photo by Christian Vierig/Getty Images

It Might Be Authentic

To make our in-depth authentication process less daunting, we have separated it into more manageable parts. Through a series of questions, each part addresses a different feature on a Fendi bag. However, following each question, we answer that the bag only might be a real Fendi. This is because a bag cannot be judged as (in)authentic based on a single feature. Before determining whether the bag is a true Fendi or not, be sure to consider it wholly. 

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Photo by Christian Vierig/Getty Images

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Photo by Edward Berthelot/Getty Images

Trust Your Gut! 

At The Vintage Bar, we provide a 100% guarantee of authenticity on everything we sell. To combat counterfeits and protect your investment, our team of brand experts meticulously inspects each item by hand. We also offer a 14-day return period, so you have plenty of time to review the bag yourself.  

 

You should always shop with a trusted reseller; however, no matter what, it is best to take your time and do your research. If a pre-loved Fendi bag seems too good to be true, it probably is. Go with your gut! 

Want Even More Fendi? 

For those who cannot get enough of Fendi, we have written some extra articles that go into even more detail. Read them to learn about the Roman brand’s most popular bag, defense of its use of fur, and newest artistic director. By the time you are done, you will be an expert in all things Fendi! 

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Photo by Christian Vierig/Getty Images

Written by : anv

The people pictured are not associated with The Archive or The Vintage Bar, and do not endorse the products shown.