When it comes to craftsmanship in leather goods, there’s nothing quite like the Italians. The Mediterranean country boasts a tradition of fine leather craftsmanship, passed down from generation to generation, and brought forth onto the international stage through luxury labels. When one buys from an Italian brand, be it Prada, Gucci, Fendi, or any of the many others operating right now, one can expect the finest leather product money can buy. For the Italians, it’s more than a business – it’s a discipline ingrained in their very rich culture. And among the many brands in fashion today, none is quite like Bottega Veneta.
Best Places to Shop for Bottega Veneta
The Uniqueness of Bottega Veneta
Models runway catwalk during the spring-summer fashion collection of Bottega Veneta. Photo: Paolo Bona
Unlike its contemporaries, Bottega Veneta developed a unique pattern that came to be their indelible signature, the Intrecciato. It consists of weaving leather on top of each other to produce a basket-like feature, which can be seen on a variety of their leather goods items, from tote and handbags to wallets and clutches. At times, the pattern has also been featured in garments, amongst their seasonal collections of ready-to-wear and bespoke service for their high-profile clients. Since the label began integrating their intrecciato technique, it has pushed Bottega Veneta to be one of the finest luxury labels in the fashion industry.
The Founders Behind the Label
The company, which in Italian means “Venetian Workshop”, was founded in 1966 by businessmen Michele Taddei and Renzo Zengiaro. They started the brand to cater to the jet set crowd’s demand for high-quality leather goods, as well as items with innovative and unique looks. In the 1970’s, the label became the hottest among the world’s elite, with some even going all the way to Venice, where their headquarters was located at the time, just to buy their latest items. They also had the tagline “When your own initials are enough”, alluding to how intricate, individual, and at times, personal, their products are for their clients.
In the 1980’s, people like Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Princess Grace of Monaco, and even empress Farah Pahlavi have all been spotted sporting Bottega Veneta items. Legendary artist Andy Warhol also made a short film for the brand, further advertising the label and increasing its awareness worldwide. However, around the same time, the company began struggling financially. Although they were a hit amongst the very rich, not a lot of consumers were drawn to Bottega Veneta. It was a time when clothes were more valuable than bags, especially when designers like Gianni Versace, Giorgio Armani, and Karl Lagerfeld were changing the game.
By the 1990’s, the label’s founders Taddei and Zengiaro exited the company, which was then sold to the Gucci group in 2001. In the hopes of reviving and revitalizing the struggling brand, they hired German designer Tomas Maier to be the creative director, overseeing all the house’s productions. After his first collections for the label, Maier put Bottega Veneta back to fashion prominence. His simplistic designs, made with the signature Bottega Veneta artistry and craftsmanship, became such highlights season after season. Soon, the label’s seasonal fashion shows during Milan Fashion Week was seen by the press as a key show during the whole Fashion Month.
21st Century Bottega Veneta
The Bottega Veneta look is characterized by sleek minimalism and classic silhouettes. Maier often finds inspiration in various decades of the 20th century, like the 1940’s or 50’s, or what the modern man and woman need for their wardrobe today. Classic staples such as trench coats, day and evening suits, and formal wear are often wonderfully-cut to be in line with the signature quality of the brand. In 2006, the brand also ventured into jewellery, producing some of the most exquisite pieces and watches. A lot of them are featured simultaneously with their ready-to-wear during their Fashion Week shows, giving both the consumers and the fashion press the image of Bottega Veneta.
Since the early 21st century, the Italian luxury label has become an international mega-brand, with clients and customers from all over the world. They currently have 251 stores in over 43 countries, across almost all continents. Their items are also sold in some of the most prominent retailers, such as Neiman Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue. For those wanting to buy online, one can purchase the label in Net-A-Porter, the leading e-commerce site in luxury fashion.
The label has also become a celebrity-favorite, with a multitude of stars spotted wearing Bottega Veneta, either on the street or on the red carpet. Actresses like Charlize Theron and Lupita Nyong’o as well as models like Miranda Kerr and Gigi Hadid have all been seen either with a bag with the famous intrecciato or wearing Maier’s designs. One of the most memorable red carpet moments for the house was when Leighton Meester wore a silk-crepe white dress from the house’s Fall 2009 collection to the 2009 Emmy Awards. It was around that time that Meester was appearing in the CW TV series, Gossip Girl, one of the biggest TV shows in the late 2000’s.
To this day, Bottega Veneta stands proud as a house of old-school luxury and traditional craftsmanship interspersed with innovative and groundbreaking designs. Never the one to follow the season’s hottest trends, they stand by their mission to provide high-quality leather goods to their millions of clients and consumers. As their motto says “When your own initials are enough”, they work by having their exquisite products speak for themselves.
Bottega Veneta Boutique in Omotesando, Tokyo. Photo: Tupungato