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Bottega Veneta goes dark.

A brand should never have to solely speak on behalf of itself, the highest level of success is when everyone else does it for them. 

Instagram originally, was so powerful, a platform a brand could control by the minute? A marketing tool that was (to start) free, easy to navigate with no risk - just instant reward?

The reliance we have created for this platform has diluted our sense of originality and taken up so much space that there is no room for interpretation. 

Luxury brands are designed for people to dream, but how can one inject their own imagination when it’s all spelled out for you, we’re seeing too much. 

Instagram has been pressuring brands, and the creative community to reintroduce themselves almost daily for fear of losing engagement, and crucial followers 

We talk about hacking the fashion calendar, creating our own rules, yet we're beholden to a platform that demands attention as much as we crave it. 

Bottega Veneta deleting their social media accounts today is shocking …I guess? Not because you’ll miss their posts of squashed bags and marble carved shoes, but it’s shocking because of what it symbolizes. 

Bottega will always be on Instagram, as a luxury brand they have this privilege but it’s no longer them controlling the narrative, it’s finally allowing everyone else. And, that is the most interesting part, because honestly, in the nicest way, I don’t really care to hear what Bottega Veneta or any brand has to say daily. 

We have a luxury brand, under the helm of a progressively new and also socially unknown designer that is effectively going off the grid - and it’s about time. 

I’ve studied the brand and it’s social presence over the pandemic, their use of Instagram and showcasing their community through the Artist Residency was a nice touch, albeit it wasn’t groundbreaking, or interesting enough for me to remember the artists they used. 

I’m more intrigued about the way they are experimenting with a new way to communicate - like forgoing Milan Digital Fashion Week (??) by sending out beautiful portable projectors to their community to showcase the Bottega Veneta: Men short film, and the Invisible store pop-up in Shanghai, a Doug Aitken-Esque mirror store without obvious branding. Not to forget the recent print publications to complement their latest digital show, the books don’t exist digitally - it’s all covetable, it’s interesting and it’s forming who the brand is. 

Bottega won’t be the only brand to take a step in this direction, but I know that only a few certain luxury brands could take a step as 'radical' as this, cutting off a life-line they don’t even need.

It is impossible for a brand, regardless if it’s luxury or not, to constantly create new ideas for these platforms, it’s always going to be half as good as it could. The people we work with at brands tell the story as much as the brand does, it becomes a part of its identity and the pressures on this handful of creatives is not sustainable. 

We’ve been approached with work over the pandemic that is purely content creation, posts for Instagram, videos for stories, just to try and manipulate their audience, get some attention. 

Does it work? Who has become so enthralled with a thrown-together, low-budget, quick production that they instantly fall in love with the brand? 

It’s a quick fix, trying to get your attention by putting something out that vaguely resembles the ethos of the brand, and it’s not remembered, it’s noise that doesn’t need to exist. 

Bottega Veneta is not the first luxury brand to turn its back on social media, remember that Daniel comes from the Philo school of thought. A luxury brand that only at the very end, decided to craft an image on social. 

However, it was in such an unconventional way, that it confused the majority.  

The comments on the posts from Céline were comedy, for their first post a cream horses hoof - no product with the caption ‘One Step.’

‘Did the account get hacked?’ ‘Are the team at Céline drunk? lol

It was at a time that the highly curated, stylized posts were gaining traction - and here one of the most coveted luxury brands posting a Horse hoof, with no context, and shockingly no product. 

This is was and is still the best thing I’ve seen, and why I and so many women and men I admire still stand by this brand of the past, not to wax lyrical, but it stood for something. 

There are exceptions to the rule, of course, but relying solely on this platform for your brand success it's going to lead you down a dark path, it feels strange to reiterate this now, but if you haven't, you need to start thinking about how and what you can do outside of social media - this statement is at least 3 years old.

Instagram particularly is a part of a brand’s eco-system, it’s not THE system.

While everyone is talking about sustainability through product, who is thinking about value and company sustainability? brand sustainability? 

I have to preface here that Instagram has absolutely helped me earn a living for the past 10 years, not through it, but working alongside it. For the past 6 years, I've turned down working with any brand if their sole strategy is only social media because it won’t work. 

I’m not saying that this is the beginning of the end for social but signals a shift and a change. It's reached the point that that’s all we have - and that’s the danger. 

The issue with social media though isn’t social media, it’s us. 

The biggest shift we saw, was during the pandemic, the past year has manipulated the world and our own mindsets more than we can actually comprehend.

Stella Bugbee @The Cut put it more eloquently than I ever could - Instagram feels incorrect for this moment: Narcissism, flexing, even the forgivable human cry for validation seem crass in the face of so much social discord. Being so flagrantly, publicly self-involved just feels extra-weird and inappropriate right now. There’s no way around that.

The new form of currency is no longer a blue tick, but being private - no longer caring to curate a beautiful life to a world of strangers, but having the ability to control who you let in.

Our values are no doubt informing the shift across the board.

Over the past year, there have been doubts if Bottega Veneta can maintain the level of growth for the long-term, this is their answer, and it will work. 

Removing themselves from the immediacy shows that their strategy is long-term, it’s not a plan that fits everyone, but it is one that forces you to think beyond what is in front of you.

Bottega Veneta had 2.5 million followers alone on Instagram, will the deletion of social media affect sales? I’m curious, but I foresee that the brand standing as a leader as one of the first to do this will only build more respect and intrigue. It’s the most interesting step on how they can maintain and build on what Daniel Lee and the team have achieved so far.