Escada was founded in 1978 by Margaretha and Wolfgang Ley in Munich, Germany. The company soon stood out, with its distinctive creations featuring unusual combinations of colors and patterns, exclusive embroidery, and elaborately designed knitted fashions. Escada saw a rapid upswing and continually extended its collections and its creative work.
In the course of its international expansion, Escada SE went public in 1986. In 1994 the company launched the Escada Sport label, established its own accessories collection including bags and shoes and granted major licenses, collaborating with such partners as Procter & Gamble.
In 2009, Escada sold its subsidiary Primera AG, based in Münster, Westphalia which comprised the brands apriori, cavita, and Laurèl, as well as BiBA. On August 11, 2009, Escada filed insolvency at Munich Local Court, as an exchange offer for the outstanding bonds of €200 million was not accepted by the necessary 80% of all bond holders. In November 2009, it was acquired by India's London-based billionaire Lakshmi Mittal, whose daughter-in-law, Megha Mittal, is the owner and Director of the Board. She is married to Aditya Mittal.
On 20 February 2014, according to Women's Wear Daily, Bruno Sälzer will step down as CEO of Escada by December 2014.
Escada divides its business activities in three segments:
- Fashion with the brands Escada Couture and Escada Sport.
- Accessories consisting of bags, shoes, and small leather goods.
- Licenses which utilizes the Escada brand for fragrances, eyewear, and children's fashion.
Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden is a regular Escada customer. In 2010 she wore Escada to the pre-wedding party at the wedding of Prince Nikolaos of Greece. In 2011 she wore Escada to the Monaco royal wedding, the pre-wedding dinner for the British royal wedding, as well as the state visit to Germany. Sarah, Duchess of York, wore Escada to Elton John's White Tie and Tiara Ball in 2011.
On 18 October 2007, the group "Global Network Against the Fur Industry", which is made up of organizations such as Coalition to Abolish the Fur Trade or Offensive gegen die Pelzindustrie, launched a campaign against Escada, in the form of a day of action, in hopes of getting Escada to stop selling fur. According to their website, on October 18, there were 40 actions against Escada in 14 countries. On October 6, 2007, Escada headquarters were vandalized by the Animal Liberation Front. Since that date the campaign against Escada continues with regular pickets in front of Escada-outlets worldwide. In October 2010, Frank Elsner, the representative for press and business communication, confirmed to the campaigners that Escada will go completely fur-free, starting January 2011.