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A model walks the runway at the Bottega Veneta show at Milan Fashion Week Autumn/Winter 2019/20 on February 22, 2019 in Milan, Italy.

January 8, 2020: A trip to Bottega Veneta’s Instagram feed was an experience in itself—an inclusive opportunity to immerse oneself in picture-perfect extravagance. The virtual experience is, of course, much different than a tangible visit to the label’s boutique on Madison Avenue: the excitement of holding the label’s famous cassette bag in your hands, a feeling reminiscent of juggling your grandmother’s most delicate glassware. 

So what happens when aspirational luxury intentionally removes itself from social media? Bottega Veneta is testing that theory. On Tuesday, January 5, the fashion industry was shocked to discover the label disappeared from Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. Is the purpose to promote a more exclusive brand identity, or is it simply a new marketing strategy, to garner the fashion industry’s attention? At the time of publishing, creative director Daniel Lee hasn’t stated the reason for the label’s social media shutdown. 

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A model walks the runway at the Bottega Veneta show during the Milan Fashion Week Spring/Summer 2020 on September 19, 2019, in Milan, Italy.

The Internet has suspicions that Bottega Veneta’s dramatic exit from social media might tie into the label’s upcoming Spring/Summer 2021 collection release, but big, flashy marketing schemes aren’t exactly Lee’s forte. If you recall, Lee likes to stick to the brand’s roots, even choosing to host a real-life fashion show amid the COVID-19 pandemic, despite the fashion industry’s nearly collective decision to go virtual. The show’s film was later shared on social media, including on its YouTube page, which curiously still exists.

Perhaps the brand’s social media leave is an effort to celebrate its origins and set the standard for the future of fashion—one that’s less showy than social media and more intimate, as it was before fashion influencers and perfectly curated Instagram feeds. By exiting social media, Bottega Veneta can recapture the mystery that Michele Taddei and Renzo Zengiaro birthed in 1966, the same one that stoked an unbranded philosophy with the slogan, “When your own initials are enough.”

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A model walks during Bottega Veneta’s Spring/Summer 2021 show in London’s Sadler’s Wells Theatre.

Naturally, fans like myself still crave a Sunday-morning Instagram scroll to temporarily and figuratively remove myself from bed and into the mind of Lee. But is an exclusive Bottega Veneta page necessary if celebrities and influencers alike do the work for them? Many fans of the label have flocked to Laura Rossi’s fan account @newbottega, among others, curated grids that nail the label’s minimal, elevated aesthetic without the label’s official creative direction. The point? Modern-day word of mouth is social media, and maybe Bottega Veneta doesn’t have to be a part of the conversation to ensure its name remains on the tip of our tongues.

“It was good to grow up in the pre-Instagram era: we had a lot of fun,” Lee said in a 2019 British Vogue interview. “It will be interesting to see what happens in the future. I believe there will be a return to privacy. I really hope so.”