If you’re one of Bottega Veneta’s 2.5 million followers on Instagram, then you've probably noticed that the brand's page no longer exists. Yesterday, the Italian fashion house, helmed by Daniel Lee, deleted all of its social media accounts (Facebook and Twitter, too). The move is an unprecedented one for a huge fashion brand, and yet, when asked by Highsnobiety for an official word, it declined to comment.
So, could Bottega Veneta be engaging in a digital detox? A “new year, new zen” kind of vibe? A break from the endless scrolling of toxic social vitriol, which — let’s be real — we all need. Or is it a PR stunt? The general consensus seems to be that the move is a marketing ploy, a strategic shift to get all eyes looking in its direction before the SS21 campaign is revealed (aka taking a leaf from musicians' handbooks who have been known to wipe their grids in prep for an album announcement). Whether that’s the intention or not, it’s worked. Suddenly, everyone in the industry is discussing what is, or rather what isn’t, going down behind those closed Bottega doors.
If the brand is simply going off the grid for a while, or potentially forever, it makes sense. Lee has long proven he has few fucks to give in regards to following social trends. Lest we forget, Celine (where Lee was director of Ready-to-Wear Design for years) was one of the last major labels to join Instagram, and arguably, it didn't need to join at all. Even without a social media feed, Celine cultivated a cult following of influential women who associated themselves with the brand entirely because of its discreetness.
Before Celine joined Instagram in 2017, only fan Instagram accounts existed — its new products ended up on IG feeds anyway even if the brand wasn't posting them itself. There are countless Bottega Veneta fan accounts, too. New Bottega, for example, already counts 355,000 followers — a number that will surely grow considering the official account's disappearance — meaning Bottega doesn't actually need to be there in order for its collections to circulate.
What's more, Lee has never had his own IG account. It’s not his thing and he’s made that clear on several occasions. He's notoriously private. He rarely does interviews, rarely gives extra context to his collections, and makes a point of banning huge audiences at his shows. The Spring/Summer 2021 collection, for example, arrived in the shape of a private viewing at Sadler's Wells Theatre in London, a venue that was once home to Hussein Chalayan's legendary shows. Only a select group of industry insiders and celebs were privy (Skepta, Stormzy, Kanye, Neneh Cherry, Hans Ulrich Obrist, and more). The move was in direct contrast with the approach of other luxury brands, most of whom broadcasted shows directly on social media in 2020 as a way to combat Covid-19 restrictions.
Since Lee first took the reins in 2018, the brand has banged out hit after hit. The label has been everywhere — to the point that it feels like every influencer and editor on the planet owns a pair of Bottega Tire boots. The brand has become so omnipresent that it risked becoming overexposed. Deleting social could be a smart, strategic move to pull back from that risk completely.
And it never really cared about nor needed social media clout anyway. It’s not a brand that’s thirsty for reshares and likes. It’s not flashy with its logos. It doesn’t run to celebs to front its campaigns. It’s a luxury label for people that want luxury, and want it in an understated “in-the-know” kind of way. It’s traditional in many senses and manages to be so without being stuffy, and that allows them the freedom to do what they like, not brag about it, and still get industry attention — like it’s getting right now.
It’ll be interesting to see whether this rejection of social trends and pressure becomes a trend in itself. Will the act of going off-grid make the once-old idea of luxury new again? After all, if you know, you know.