Bottega Veneta is pulling all its products and logos from its boutiques, but it's not because of a major rebrand. Instead, the brand is supporting the country's local "bottegas" ("an Italian slang word that came into common use in the '50s to identify small luggage handlers and luggage shops") that embody the best of Italian creativity and who may not have the kind of platform Bottega Veneta has.
Bottega is partnering with 100 boutiques — all members of the Associazione Commercianti di Bottega — to bring more attention to their products, and will allow them to display some pieces as well as provide them with a special window display kit that includes graphics, flooring and a ladder. You'll also see these shops prominently mentioned on the Bottega Veneta website.
"What we're trying to do is go back to our roots and honor the boutiques because they are the ones who have supported us for years," Michele Norsa, chief executive officer of Bottega Veneta told BoF. "It's time to give back."
Norsa says that the partnership has been in the works for years, but they were waiting for the right moment to launch it. That moment came after they reorganized their distribution strategy in Italy last year. Norsa explained that they moved away from a wholesale business model for many reasons, but the primary reason was that they wanted to be able to "take care of our boutique network better."
"Retail is a tricky place right now because it's challenging and we need to do more for our boutiques," he said. "We want them to be profitable and we want them to be able to invest in staff, training and the customer experience."
The move is not entirely surprising for a brand that is known for its craftsmanship, but it does signal a shift for other luxury brands. "You'll see other brands do this as well," Norsa said. "It's one of those initiatives you need to start so that you can see the results and then everyone will start doing it. It's a good thing for the sector."The move will not affect Bottega Veneta's wholesale business either, which accounts for nearly 70 percent of its revenue. "We'll keep our wholesale strategy because we're solid in luxury," he explained. Although, they may look at going beyond the current geographical distribution in the future.