Bottega Veneta (Est. 1966) Bottega Veneta was established in 1966 in Vicenza, Italy by entrepreneurs Michele Taddei and Renzo Zengiaro. At the time, Michele Taddei was married to Laura Braggion who developed the company with him. Years later, after Michele left the company, Vittorio and Laura Moltedo (this Laura was previously married to Taddei) took over the brand. Today, the company is known as an Italian luxury goods and high fashion house admired for its leather goods (sold worldwide), its men’s and women’s ready-to-wear collections, jewelry, and other accessories.
Items for women include belts, gloves, scarves, sunglasses, necklaces, rings, earrings, cuffs, perfume, and shoes. Men can purchase ties, caps, sunglasses, and other accessories. Bottega Veneta honors individuality and expresses that idea in its motto, “When your own initials are enough.”
On its official website, the company states, “Each object is intended to enhance — not define — one’s personal style and doesn’t need to showcase any logo or initials that may hide its owner’s ones. Wearing Bottega Veneta allows [one] to reveal … inner strength and confidence. Each detail is of essence, be it the strength of a seam, the size of a pocket, or the versatility of a garment. The house relentlessly pursues innovation in material and construction, ensuring that each item is both beautiful and perfectly functional.
“The sole signature of Bottega Veneta is its distinctive leather weave design, the Intrecciato. Developed at the very start of Bottega Veneta’s evolution, it continues to serve as the most recognizable brand element, allowing for adaptation and reinterpretation in various colors, leathers and exotic skins. The result is always the same – an unmistakable expression of the house.”
At its creation in Vicenza, Veneto in northeastern Italy, the brand showcased its goods in an atelier located within an 18th-century villa in Montebello Vicentino. Ultimately, its headquarters opened in Lugano, Switzerland with offices in Milan and Vicenza. In 2001, Bottega Veneta was purchased by the Gucci Group and is now a part of the French multinational group Kering.
Bottega Veneta derived its name from the Italian for “Venetian Shop” and was originally founded to produce artisanal leather goods. The company’s distinctive leather weave design, Intrecciato, was used on the exterior of many of its products and became widely associated with the brand. Intrecciato was the starting point for the company’s evolution and continues to be one of the most recognizable elements of the brand.
In the 1970s, the company began advertising its tag line, “When your own initials are enough”. By the early 1980s, Bottega Veneta was a favorite of the international jet set with clients who included Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and Iran’s empress, Farah Pahlavi. Andy Warhol made a short film for the company in 1980.
During the 1980s, Bottega Veneta’s fortunes began to decline. In a reversal of its motto, the company marketed a new image that began emblazoning the ‘BV’ logo on its products. In February 2001, the struggling company was acquired by the Gucci Group. The same year, Tom Ford, then Gucci Group’s Creative Director, hired Tomas Maier, who had previously worked at Sonia Rykiel and Hermès, as Bottega Veneta’s Creative Director.
After receiving total creative control for product and store design as well as advertising, Tomas Maier set about returning the Bottega Veneta to its original identity. He removed the visible logos from the brand’s products and highlighted the signature Intrecciato weave returning the company’s focus to artisanal production.
Bottega Veneta presented its first women’s ready-to-wear runway show in February 2005 and its first men’s runway show in June 2006. In April 2006, the company launched its first jewelry line and branched out into interiors and furniture design.
On its Bottega Veneta website, Kering declares, “Under the creative direction of Tomas Maier, [the brand] emerged with a unique art de vivre philosophy defined by four unchanging principles: outstanding craftsmanship, timeless yet innovative design, contemporary functionality and the highest quality materials. The motto, ‘When your own initials are enough,’ conveys a concept of individuality and confidence that now applies to women and men’s leather goods, ready-to-wear, shoes, jewelry, furniture and more.”
Tomas Maier was born in 1957 in Pforzheim, Germany, at the edge of the Black Forest. He was raised in a family of architects and attended a Waldorf school as a child. From there he headed to Paris, where he trained at the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture. His professional experience includes designing for some of the most prestigious fashion and luxury good houses in France, Italy, and Germany including Guy Laroche, Sonia Rykiel, where he designed men’s wear for eight years, and Revillon, where he spent four years as creative director.
For nine years, Maier was a women’s ready-to-wear designer at Hermès, where he also designed some leather goods and accessories. Since Maier joined Bottega Veneta as Creative Director in 2001, he has established Bottega Veneta as one of the world’s top luxury goods houses. He identified the core values of Bottega Veneta which he calls “the four cornerstones”: fine-quality materials, extraordinary craftsmanship, contemporary functionality, and timeless design.
Another facet of Tomas Maier’s abilities is to interpret the Bottega Veneta spirit. With his bags, including the famous shopping bag offered in a limited edition each year, his creations include leather jackets as light as a shirt.
Almost from the moment he began at Bottega Veneta, Maier implemented his vision by relying on first quality Italian craftsmanship that is the legacy of the brand. In 1966, founders Michele Taddei and Renzo Zengiaro had established a workshop specializing in leather weaving. The beauty of this artisanal work seduced 1970s jet-setters who soon fell in love with Intrecciato which today serves as the company’s instantly recognizable signature.
When Tomas Maier took the reins in 2001 he re-launched the campaign, “When your own initials are enough” offering a handbag personalization service as an alternative to the logos favored at the time. The tone of the BV’s Tomas Maier era was set: a balance between two poles – a love for craftsmanship and a love for art; an era that has oscillated over the years.
To sustain the excellence of Bottega Veneta, Maier came up with the idea of contributing to the education of future generations of artisans and opened a leather goods school financed by the brand. With the same passion for craft, Maier has led the brand into the world of education.
When in 2006, Bottega Veneta created the school to train a new generation of artisans, it followed a longstanding Italian tradition of creating an environment where young apprentices could learn skills and craftsmanship from Masters.
La Scuola dei Maestri Pellettieri di Bottega Veneta is located at the Atelier in Montebello Vicentino and serves as a permanent workshop for employees and students to indulge in the brand’s know-how, values, theoretical information, and practical skills insuring continuity in cultural heritage and expert artisanship.
The School thrives in the heart of a region where the future of Italian know-how and the artisanal tradition has existed for generations. It is enhanced by the relationship that exists between Bottega Veneta and the province where it has always been proudly rooted. This allows for fruitful partnerships with local schools and institutions, including IUAV University of Venice.
In 2012, Bottega Veneta published its first book celebrating its history and craftsmanship. The book was the result of a collaborative effort between Maier, book designer Sam Shahid, and others in fashion journalism. Fashion editors contributed to each chapter by describing Maier’s designs of handbags, small leather goods, luggage, shoes, women’s ready-to-wear, jewelry, men’s ready-to-wear, furniture, home accessories, watches, and fragrances. A second book detailing the “Art of Collaboration” project was published in October 2015.
In 2013, Bottega Veneta inaugurated a new atelier in Montebello Vicentino. The complex, restored and constructed with an eye to LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) guidelines, was overseen by Maier.
In 2015, Bottega Veneta announced the opening of its first dedicated home boutique in Italy, Via Borgospesso in Milan. Located within the 18th-century Palazzo Gallarati Scotti, the 2207 square-foot ground floor boutique was also designed by Maier to present its furniture, lighting, tabletop, and home decoration. Bottega Veneta opened its second Maison in Beverly Hills in May 2016.
To coincide with Bottega Veneta’s 50th anniversary and the 15 years of Tomas Maier’s artistic direction in 2016, Bottega Veneta set a precedent during Milan Fashion Week by showing both the menswear and womenswear collections on the same catwalk.
In March 2018 Bottega Veneta announced the opening of its third Maison—at 740 Madison Avenue in New York. Set on five floors with nearly 15,000 square feet, it is the biggest Bottega Veneta store in the world showcasing the most extensive range of women’s and men’s ready-to-wear, handbags, small leather goods, luggage, eyewear, shoes, watches, fragrance, jewelry and the Home and Furniture collections.
The brand now operates more than 250 boutiques in 43 countries and its products are distributed across Europe, Asia, Australia, South America, and North America. Current celebrities known to wear and collect Bottega Veneta fashions and products include Nicole Kidman, Scarlett Johansson, and Sarah Jessica Parker.
According to the official Bottega Veneta website, “The [brand’s] philosophy is rooted in restraint, subtlety and discretion. Its language is silence, audible only to those who listen. Its signature is the Intrecciato, visible only to those who recognize it. With exceptional craftsmanship, luxurious materials, and intricate details, Bottega Veneta items speak for themselves, but never on behalf of those wearing them, allowing [its owners] confidence and individuality to shine through.”
Men’s designs range from tailored blazers, gabardine trousers, slim-fit lounge pants, and cashmere sweatshirts to sleek eyewear, totes, backpacks, pouches, card holders, as well as footwear, such as the house’s signature Dodger sneaker, all carefully crafted and intermingled with Intrecciato leatherwork.