The Escada group was founded in 1976 near Munich, Germany, by Wolfgang and Margarethe Ley. The company took its name from an Irish thoroughbred racehorse and both Leys were betting on their enterprise to win. Today the Escada collection includes Couture fashion, Escada Sport and Escada Accessories, fur coats, handbags, sunglasses and jewelry.
Margarethe Ley was the chief designer for the group until her death in 1992. She strongly adhered to the belief that a designer must never rely solely on creative talent to be a success; creativity must be balanced by a strong market appeal. Ley created a highly distinctive identity for Escada clean, slick, and sophisticated. She also pioneered the development of exciting new fabric combinations and color schemes when so many other designers were solidly into black. When Ley died she was succeeded by Michael Stolzenburg who brought a younger, more modern perspective to the company. Taking his influence from daily life, he believed the balance of a collection relied on the mix of tried and true design and fresh new ideas. In 1994 after Stolzenburg passed away, the firm turned to Todd Oldham to serve as the company's creative consultant, that same year Escada Sport was launched. Oldham's creations were enthusiastically received, and in 1995 both Escada Knit and Classic Elements became available in the company's wide spectrum of colors and fabrics.
In the early 2000s Escada had over 375 boutiques worldwide, including new boutiques in Paris and Kuala Lumpur, and was relocating its New York flagship store to larger digs on Fifth Avenue. The luxury retailer was considered the world's largest ready-to-wear producer with some 1,500 different styles available each year, and to increase its marketshare further, Escada entered into a joint venture in the summer of 2001 with the SECON Group, each buying a 45-percent stake in Louis Feraud. The entrepreneurial spirit of founders Wolfgang and Margarethe Ley is alive and well in the enduring success of Escada.