Bottega Veneta Is Breaking the Social Media Mold

The Italian label launches the inaugural issue of an audiovisual magazine to replace its social media accounts.

The cover of Bottega Veneta Issue 01 designed by James Lacey

Bottega Veneta made headlines when, earlier this year, its social media accounts mysteriously disappeared without a trace. It came as a shock—for the past year, brands have been doubling down on their social media presence to debut new collections as consumers were forced to spend more time at home glued to their phone screens. With new shopping features, Instagram seems like an utmost essential platform for brands that closed their brick-and-mortar stores. But instead of posting into the void, Bottega will be returning to its roots in a way that also rushes headlong into the future. The Milanese label will publish a quarterly online magazine that creative director Daniel Lee hopes will offer “more progressive and thoughtful” content than scrolling through an Instagram feed. 

The “quaranzine,” called Issue and available exclusively on Bottega’s website, comprises a series of audiovisual experiences across fashion, photography, music, and video, but notably no text. Highlights include footage of Bottega’s most recent catwalk show at Salder’s Wells in London narrated by Neneh Cherry, a thrilling short film that captures the rooftop stunts of British parkour collective STORROR, and a newly commissioned video for Missy Elliott’s classic 1999 track “Hot Boyz” shot by Derek Blanks. Whimsical touches such as Jell-O handbags, balloon art, and shoe hedges also prove the label isn’t taking itself too seriously.

“This wasn’t about a room full of executives talking about marketing strategy. Social media represents the homogenization of culture,” Lee, a protégé of Phoebe Philo, tells The Guardian. “Everyone sees the same stream of content. A huge amount of thought goes into what I do, and social media oversimplifies it.” The British designer further laments a “mood of playground bullying on social media” and is instead seeking a more inclusive alternative. “We’re not just a brand, we’re a team of people who work together, and I don’t want to collude in an atmosphere that feels negative.”

Elaine Constantine
(FROM LEFT) Missy Elliott. Bindi Steel.

While the pivot away from Instagram might seem brazen during a time when the platform has all but supplanted glossy magazines, perhaps Bottega is onto something. The label reported 4.8 percent revenue growth in 2020—a year otherwise marked by financial losses for luxury brands—and seems to be maintaining that upward trajectory by staying true to its roots of tightly edited, well-constructed garments. That’s not to say Bottega is nowhere to be found on the platform. Visuals from Issue fluttered across our feeds yesterday when the project surfaced, and a fan account, called @newbottega, exists solely to track the brand’s creative output so loyalists can still get their fix. 

Lee, however, intends to maintain his low profile. “Too much [Instagram] can be quite dangerous and detrimental to the creative process,” he told Cultured. “Everyone seeing the same thing isn’t healthy or productive. It doesn’t breed individuality.” And in an age where individuality and self-worth have become determined by likes, followers, and curated grids, Lee deserves credit for reclaiming how his work is presented—and keeping us eagerly awaiting his next move. 

Mariacarla Boscono by Jonathan Frantini

(All images courtesy Bottega Veneta)

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