How traditional craftsmanship lies at the heart of the Italian's handbag brand's past, present and future.
The Insider: Bottega Veneta Bespoke
Traditional craftsmanship has been at the centre of Bottega Veneta since the brand’s beginnings, thanks to the exceptional quality of its workmanship, the focus on innovation in both design and craftsmanship and the appeal of its tactful, no-logo design aesthetic.
Founded by Michele Taddei and Renzo Zengiaro in the late Sixties, the name literally translates as “Venetian workshop”, and today the collaboration between designer and artisan remains very much at the heart of the brand.
The customisation programme is made available to a select few in an event in a chosen city for a few days at a time. This allows the brand’s most dedicated customers to work one-on-one with the leather artisans in Vicenza, in the Veneto region of north-east Italy. It was formed in 2006 to ensure the company’s focus on artisanal output remained, its motto is “When your own initials are enough”.
The brand has more than 100 in-house artisans with a sophisticated skill set working to the clients’ needs and wishes. Every process along the way is made mostly or entirely by hand. This customisation is special for Bottega Veneta staff in that they can interact with their customers in creating something purely personal. Creative director Tomas Maier’s philosophy is that, by creating your own bag from scratch, it becomes an integral part of the customer.
One can choose from a selected number of styles and colour ways, and also from a few of the unique design techniques invented by the brand. The shapes are from the collection but some are available in specific materials with different linings, and also offer the option of adding your own initials.
The “intrecciato” technique is Bottega Venta’s visual signature ie one made with a base of perforated leather and a thin strip of leather one centimetre wide. The artisan, with his needle, weaves the leather in and out with a strip of about 1cm thick. With the precious materials such as crocodile, one bag is made out of several crocodile skins because of quality control and the need for an exact colour match. Where most of their competitors do a single seam, they have developed an alternative technique, the zig-zag, which is inspired by the traditional “intreccio”. The process isn’t an easy one; from one crocodile to another the skins will have a different absorption of the colour, meaning that the person who cuts the materials has to match every piece to perfection.
The effect is that it looks like one piece of crocodile, a design ethos important to the brand.
The classic Intrecciato Cabat – another timeless staple for the Bottega brand and a collector’s item for some – takes two people two full days to weave the leather into the seamless shape. There is no inner lining; instead, a leather body that looks the same is woven inside and out. Another day is needed for stitching: applying handles, and finishing every edge by hand. Prior to these three days, there is considerable time spent treating, preparing, and cutting the leather. This is an intricate process created by the use of 11 triangles of leather, with strips that are double-faced, together with glue and a hot press. The colour on the front, back and sides of the strips also have to be uniform, and the leathers are coloured on barrels, with mineral or vegetable colourings.
The artisan who starts the body of the bag has to finish it. It’s not possible for somebody else to take over as they will not have the same tension on their hands for the design to be uniform. When the bag is finished, another artisan works on the bottom, the pochette and the handles. One small mistake and the Cabat cannot be used and the whole process has to start again.
At this stage, the client can then choose the lining and their own personalisation, such as their initials and a silver or gold plate which goes inside the bag. It takes between six months and one year before the bag is complete. Inside it reads Bottega Veneta, Made in Italy, Limited Edition, 1/1.
Contact Bottega Veneta, Dubai Mall, 04 325 3981