Bottega Veneta has been the trendiest fashion house on social media since British designer Daniel Lee came to the Milanese brand less than three years ago.
Model Rosie Huntington-Whiteley posted no fewer than 39 selfies with her “Pouch” in the space of three months. When four British Vogue employees realized they were all wearing the brand’s clothing or accessories one day in September 2019, they posted a photo with the caption: “We have a new desk dress code @bottegaveneta.”
But in a move that hints at a fashion backlash against Instagram, Bottega Veneta has cut all ties to social media. It’s replacing social posts with a quarterly online magazine that Lee hopes will offer content “more progressive and more thoughtful” than scrolling through an Instagram feed.
“Social media represents the homogenization of culture,” the 35-year-old tells The Guardian before the magazine’s launch on Wednesday. “Everyone sees the same content stream. You think a lot about what I do, and social media oversimplifies it. “
Called Issue, the “digital diary” features a recently commissioned music video for Missy Elliott’s 1999 classic Hot Boyz. The video, which was shot by photographer Tyrone Lebon, is the kind of content, Lee hopes, that the audience will “sit with, like they would a movie.”
The move is a curve ball, because Instagram has replaced the traditional glossy magazine as the most powerful platform for fashion. Bottega Veneta is a brand on the rise, achieving 4.8% revenue growth last year, when most luxury brands were hit hard (Gucci’s revenue, for example, was down 21.5% ). As a result, the eyes of the fashion industry are watching, and in a world where social media increasingly shapes culture, politics, and lifestyle, the implications go beyond fashion.
Issue is an audiovisual magazine with fashion photography, music and video. There are voiceovers and music, but no text. Neneh Cherry recounts images from Bottega Veneta’s most recent show at Sadler’s Wells in London. Berlin skater Oumi Janta spins on her skates under a disco ball in a silk fringed cocktail dress, and there’s a breathtaking short film that captures the daring rooftop stunts of British parkour collective STORROR.
The contrast with Instagram is intentional. “There’s an intimidating environment on the playground on social media that I really don’t like,” says Lee. Instead, I wanted to do something lighthearted. We are not just a brand, we are a team of people working together and I don’t want to collude in an atmosphere that feels negative. “
Items from past collections are photographed alongside items from the new season, “which makes sense: there is longevity in the items we make.” (After all, a Bottega Veneta cotton terry t-shirt, one of the simplest pieces currently on sale, retails for £ 365.)
Lee, who won four British fashion awards in 2019, a record unmatched by Alexander McQueen, Vivienne Westwood or Stella McCartney, insists that cutting ties with social media is not a gimmick, saying: “It was not a room full of executives talking about marketing strategy. “
But Bottega Veneta is in the enviable position of having her cake and eating her continuing to benefit from Instagram exposure without posting on social media. The buzz around the brand means that influencers and celebrities are likely to continue posting their Bottega Veneta selfies. One fan account, @newbottega, has half a million followers. “I’m very happy to be on other people’s Instagram,” says Lee. “That conversation with the fans is incredible and we are grateful to have it.”
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism