Daniel Lee’s surprise exit from Bottega Veneta

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The Kering-owned brand promises a new “creative organisation” after resignation of Lee, who put the Italian brand back on the fashion map.

Bottega Veneta creative director Daniel Lee’s surprise exit just three weeks after the house’s mega show in Detroit leaves a hole at one of the more high-profile fashion brand turnarounds in recent years. A “new creative organisation” is planned.

The “joint decision to end their collaboration,” announced on Wednesday, did not include details on why. Kering declined to comment beyond the statement. The brand is currently run by CEO Bartolomeo Rongone, who joined the house in September 2019 after the wheels of turnaround were in motion.Lee, a 35-year-old British designer, has overseen one of the most dramatic turnaround stories in luxury in recent years since he joined in July 2018, bringing the Italian brand known for intrecciato leather into a fashion must-have with his mix of cult items such as the block colour Pouch and Jodie bags, and establishing a ready-to-wear offering, beloved by celebrities from A$AP Rocky to Hailey Bieber. Bottega Veneta is Kering’s third largest brand behind Gucci and Saint Laurent accounting for 9 per cent of the group’s sales in 2020, according to the luxury group. It has been one of the few resilient brands during the pandemic, posting sales ahead 4.8 per cent in 2020 to €1.2 billion while others fell behind. Growth in 2021 has been a bit more muted (up 30.3

per cent in the first three quarters, versus a 45.1 per cent gains for Saint Laurent and a 48.1 per cent climb for “other houses” including Balenciaga). Importantly, the brand has continued to resonate in Asia Pacific, the growth driver of the luxury market. His exit leaves big questions for who will take over. A spokesperson for Kering said an announcement is expected soon.

“The announcement phrased as ending ‘collaboration’ does not sound very friendly (unusual for Kering) and comes just after the brand’s big Detroit show,” says Jefferies analyst Flavio Cereda-Parini. “Referring to ‘a new creative organisation’ to be announced soon does not point to a planned exit.” Kering declined to comment beyond the press statement.

Daniel Lee’s surprise exit from Bottega Veneta

How it looks is uncertain. “Let’s see if they go for a new creative director or a different creative setup with multiple creative voices involved like for example at Louis Vuitton, or Moncler,” says Mario Ortelli, managing director of Ortelli & Co“.

Bad news for Kering, Daniel has been able to reinvent “intrecciato” [technique of weaving leather strips] for Bottega Veneta, and to bring it back to consumer relevance quickly,” says Bernstein analyst Luca Solca “It is unexpected that he leaves after only three years at the creative helm. The ball is now in Kering’s court to replace Daniel effectively.

Lee’s number two at Bottega Veneta, design director Matthieu Blazy, could not be reached for comment. The designer, whose CV includes stints at Raf Simons, Margiela and Céline, would be a good fit, according to Jean Vigneron, associate partner at Paris recruitment firm Agent Secret. “He has proven himself at the helm of major labels. He worked under Raf Simons; he has the minimalist, cerebral edge that fits the direction that Daniel Lee gave to Bottega Veneta,” Vigneron says.

“[Lee’s] singular vision made the house’s heritage relevant for today and put it back to the centre of the fashion scene,” Kering CEO and president François-Henri Pinault said in a statement. “He provided Bottega Veneta with a fresh perspective and a new sense of modernity, while remaining respectful of the brand’s fifty-year heritage,” added Bartolomeo Rongone, Bottega Veneta CEO

“In just three years, he turned Bottega Veneta into a fashion brand, beyond accessories, giving it a fashion identity with strong codes such as the electric green. It bore fruit and his biker boots were often sold out,” says Benjamin Simmenauer, professor at Institut Français de la Mode.

Lee favored unconventional communications strategies including star-studded salon-style shows in London, Berlin and most recently Detroit for Spring/Summer 2022, a nod to the underground techno scene there. He controversially deleted the brand’s Instagram account in September 2020 and instead launched a digital magazine Issue in March 2021. “He feels strongly about the idea of understated luxury, like Phoebe Philo,” says Simmenauer. (Lee came from Céline where he was the ready-to-wear director under Philo.)

“Bottega Veneta is now resonating beyond its leather base, although the diversification and rejuvenation came (unexpectedly) from footwear rather than ready-to-wear,“ Aubin writes in a note. “While leather goods is one of the most profitable categories in the luxury space, one could argue, however, that such a high dependence on one product category [74 per cent of sales, according to the brand] could turn into a point of weakness.” During an investor presentation in September 2020, Kering presented Bottega Venetta as entering a new growth phase, involving further development of its men’s line, Aubin also reports.

Lee’s departure raises questions on the future direction of the house. “Bottega Veneta’s controversial social media policy may be revisited but accumulated brand heat will come under pressure now,” says Jefferies’s Cereda.

Article Source:

Vogue Business | Written by:  Lucy Maguire and Laurie Guilebault

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#Daniel Lee’s surprise exit from Bottega Veneta

#Daniel Lee’s surprise exit from Bottega Veneta

#Daniel Lee’s surprise exit from Bottega Veneta

#Daniel Lee’s surprise exit from Bottega Veneta

#Daniel Lee’s surprise exit from Bottega Veneta

#Daniel Lee’s surprise exit from Bottega Veneta

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