"Brands are the new bands" is one of those recent saying that, while not without truth, kind of makes me die inside whenever I hear it. Imagine it, in the '90s, kids had the "Take Me To Your Dealer" alien and Kurt Cobain posters on their wall; 10 years from now it's Alexander Arnault grinning psychotically while clutching a Rimowa suitcase.
That aphorism isn't to be taken so literally, but should we do so for talking sake, the comparisons are easy to draw. If Supreme is The Clash (a punk upstart that landed a blow on the establishment before being gobbled up in the system) and CCP is Jandek (the mysterious one-off who very little is known about), a luxury powerhouse like Bottega Veneta would be one of many MOR-friendly posh boys. It's an impossibly less dangerous Coldplay, if you will, with a genteel but loyal audience who sip Veuve Clicquot at shows and clap politely after each song. That minor-key jingle in the new Volvo advert? It's lifted from track seven off their latest album. This is elegant but non-threatening music for those who live life on the mild side, baby.
But under the recent direction of Yorkshireman Daniel Lee, the Bottega's have embraced a bold, decidedly modern sensibility that has upended stereotypes and saw them attract a new legion of younger fans. It's a similar story behind the scenes, as demonstrated last month when, out of nowhere, the brand *gasp* deleted its social media presence. In our entirely hypothesized rock landscape, such an act is akin to quitting the promotional circuit in favor of a couple of big festival shows per year.
Only today has the reason why become clear.
“Regarding its digital communication strategy, it’s not disappearing from social networks — it’s merely using them differently," Kering owner François-Henri Pinault recently told WWD. "It has decided, in line with its positioning, to lean much more on its ambassadors and fans by giving them the material they need to talk about the brand through various social networks, by letting them speak for the brand rather than doing it itself." In other words, its fanbase is so fervent, it doesn't really need to bother with the toilet circuit anymore.
That a brand isn't interested in playing the social media game is admirable to some degree, but abruptly removing itself — and knowing the chatter doing so will generate — feels more akin to high-stakes, 4D chess (why not just let the account lie dormant, for example?). It's smart from the understated Bottega Veneta, which knows the currency of elusiveness in a time when, to quote Raf Simons, "fashion has become pop." With so many voices clambering to be heard, saying nothing feels louder words. Bear in mind how, in 2019, British Vogue saw fit to label creative director Lee as "The Quiet Radical."
Yet ultimately, is it really so interesting that a faceless, conglomerate-owned, billion-dollar company has committed such an act? Does a carefully constructed publicity stunt dreamed up by a bunch of marketing executives merit so much attention? By very virtue of writing this news story — and bearing in mind fashion's wider pop culture explosion — it looks like the answer is, begrudgingly, yes.
Maybe brands are the new bands after all; it's just a shame some of the music is so boring.