For many brands, the thought of disappearing from the social media world would be a brand strategy disaster. It’s a social-first era: designer’s are depending on platforms like Instagram, Facebook and Twitter more than ever before to reach new audiences, connect with existing ones, increase brand awareness, and increase traffic to their site.
But it looks like the Italian luxury fashion house Bottega Veneta has made the decision to move forward in a new direction. Last year, the fashion sector was commended and admired for embracing digital and putting the focus on the consumers through pioneering social media content. We saw the likes of Prada invite TikTok-er Charli D’Amelio to Milan Fashion Week. She shared various videos of her in different Prada outfits to her millions of followers: a marketing success. 2020 also brought the launch of Michael Kors’s #WatchHungerStop Campaign, in a bid to promote food security and nutrition. There were colourful graphics plastered all over their social media accounts, aiming to create awareness.
So, this move from Bottega is, I suppose – unexpected. But maybe Bottega are leaders in setting a new trend of logging out and disconnecting. In 2015, Alber Elbaz, the Israeli fashion designer said: “When you see too much of a designer, it means that it’s not too much of a good piece and they need to do too much publicity to push it forward.” It makes sense that luxury fashion houses were originally reluctant to adopt digital and social media because they were worried that becoming too visible online would dilute their brand. But over time, as consumers became more and more online, brands had no choice but to adapt and move with the times. More than half of the world now uses social media and 86% of women now use social media for purchasing advice, with many also getting fashion inspiration and clothing advice from social media.
Regardless of the reasons for the decision, Bottega Venetta’s move is bold and definitely got everyone talking. Maybe a marketing strategy? They could be trying to gain publicity before launching a new range or campaign. What we do know is that Bottega is still very influential. Before Daniel Lee was announced as creative director, their sales were declining. Since Daniel Lee made his mark, however, their success improved, with sales jumping up by 7% after the first batch of Daniel’s designs were released to the public. And between the third quarter of 2018 and third quarter of 2019, Bottega’s influencer posts interestingly grew from 30% to 46% of the brand’s total social media output.
Last year, Bottega’s pouch was the “It” bag, and it was one of the first items released by Daniel Lee. “There was no logo, no shoulder strap. It wasn’t really that functional, because you had to root around in it,” Lee explains. “But it was true to the brand because when Bottega began, they made bags that were soft when everything else was really hard.” The bag was minimal, simplistic, and definitely a change from the street style which was popular around that time. At the Fashion Awards in December 2019, the brand actually won every category it was nominated for: Accessories Designer of the Year, Brand of the Year and British Designer of the Year – Womenswear.
Daniel is also one of the few high-profile designers to not have any social media, and he once told Vogue: “I’m aware of social media; I like it in some respects, I don’t in others.” And the New York Times: “I don’t know what I would put on there that would be interesting.” He even spoke about the dangers of social media and the impact it can have on the creative process: “I look at Instagram and social media sometimes, but I think too much can be quite dangerous and detrimental to the creative process,” he explains. “Everyone seeing the same thing is not healthy or productive. It doesn’t breed individuality.”
In fact, a fan account named @newbottega was made to fill the hole. Curated by Laura Nycole, the Insta describes itself as a “Digital journal dedicated to the work of British designer Daniel Lee at the helm of Bottega Veneta.” Perhaps the brand are hoping the lack of social presence would just make it even more sought after and covetable in this same way.
Social media marketing was evidently once Bottega’s focus, and their recent pivot makes us anticipate what’s next for them. And for a brand as successful as Bottega to make this move, will other brands follow? Something tells me that Bottega won’t be the last brand to make this decision, maybe a bit more marketing creativity and innovation is what we need from brands this year. And Bottega Veneta is doing exactly that.