When Phoebe Philo departed Céline, there was a question over where women would turn for elevated, minimal pieces with an unexpected edge. The answer is Bottega Veneta. The Italian house had a complete overhaul when creative director Daniel Lee joined the brand in July 2018. Notably, he's the former director of ready-to-wear design at Céline. Bottega Veneta never used to be the type of brand you'd spot in street style pictures, but at the most recent Haute Couture Paris Fashion Week, it was clear that this is the brand introducing the most cult items in 2019.
In just 12 months, Lee has turned this Italian classic brand into the name every fashion buyer is talking about, and it's certainly translating into sales and demand. It's almost impossible to track down a pouch bag or the square-toe mules. According to global fashion search engine Lyst, searches for Bottega Veneta are up 71% quarter on quarter, with the bags and clutches being the leading category, followed by flat shoes.
For an indication of quite how excited fashion buyers are by this new Bottega era, look to MyTheresa Fashion Buying Director Tiffany Hsu's Instagram—she wrote that the retailer may as well rename its key buying week "Bottega week." Net-a-Porter's global buying director, Elizabeth von der Goltz, has called out this brand as a key powerhouse for the season leading the trend for a more grown-up, polished way of dressing.
"We love Daniel Lee's vision and how each category from ready-to-wear to leather goods and jewellery evokes a discreet modern luxury, which resonates with our customers who want to look and feel effortless but in an elevated way," says Cassie Smart, head of womenswear buying at MatchesFashion. "We've seen fast sellouts from many items from the collection, with highlights being the mesh net-and-chain shoe, the pouch bag, leather knee-length shorts and the scoop double-breasted jacket.”
There's already a fan account called @newbottega dedicated to Lee's aesthetic, which is quickly gaining traction on Instagram with 18,000 followers. It posts pictures of the brand's new hero pieces—primarily pouch bags open to reveal everything from perfume to granola inside.
"Daniel Lee's new direction at Bottega Veneta was a success all the way down to the accessories. His first hit bag was the pouch, which sold out globally in just a few days," says von der Goltz. The pouch bag has quickly become a new cult fashion item, coming in dozens of colours and textures, and it has been Rosie Huntington-Whiteley's sidekick all summer.