By Megan Hill
A New Year social media hiatus is common practice, especially following the seemingly endless scroll that was 2020. But that fact didn’t cushion the fashion world’s shock at ‘it’ brand Bottega Veneta’s Houdini-esque stunt.
2021 had hardly begun when the Italian fashion house deleted accounts on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, abandoning a combined following of over 8 million.
Luxury brands pour billions of dollars into social media advertising efforts every year, perhaps never more so than amidst the turbulence of 2020. Global sales are in decline and according to BoF, 2020 saw a 43% decline in retail footfall in the UK alone. E-commerce became the primary method of trade and social media an increasingly indispensable tool, or so we thought, in maintaining brand relevance and consumer engagement.
Luxury giants even embraced TikTok in an unconventional quest to convert high school teens into high-fashion consumers. In summer last year, #GucciModelChallenge flooded the site as teens raided their own wardrobe to create remarkably accurate replicas of Gucci editorials. Internet trends such as these and brands’ increased efforts to connect with consumers is making luxury fashion more accessible to the masses, but it is ultimately elusiveness that entices. If luxury fashion is no longer so exclusive, will it remain so highly coveted?
Is Bottega Veneta reclaiming luxury?
Bottega Veneta’s social hiatus suggests Daniel Lee thinks the answer is no. By shutting the door to the world, Bottega Veneta has established themselves as the most inaccessible, illustrious brand of the moment.
The power move is perhaps not so unprecedented when we remember how Lee rejected the ‘open-to all’ Virtual Fashion Shows that we saw from many luxury houses last year. As he told Vogue, “I felt that fashion was moving towards becoming reliant on digital presentations, which is not necessarily something that resonated particularly with me or the brand.” Instead of following suit, Lee presented his Spring/Summer 2021 collection to a select group of VIPs in an intimate show at Sadler’s Wells Theatre.
Lee worked under the notoriously digitally aloof Phoebe Philo, and it is no secret he shares her disdain for digital. However, this rejection of social media, whether temporary or not, is far too calculated to have stemmed solely from personal distaste.
The return to retail
Countless conversations have ensued about the future of retail, the pandemic mercilessly accelerated it’s already inevitable decline, consumers have had a chance to realise their preference for the practicality of online shopping and many will harbour a lingering fear of the virus, meaning brands will need to heavily incentivise their return to physical showrooms. As industry experts deliberate how exactly to resuscitate a dying industry, Bottega Veneta may well have found a solution.
The luxury house’s virtual vanishing act has left an alluring trail of secrecy and mystery. Bottega Venetta have established their position at the epitome of exclusivity, their showrooms the site of an illustrious party that everyone wants to be invited to.
Whether a stunningly crafted approach to navigating the return to retail or simply a way to make noise in an increasingly saturated media market, confidently untethering from the ties of social media consolidates Bottega Veneta as the disruptive force at the forefront of luxury fashion.