How To Spot Real Bottega Veneta By Daniel Lee
It’s fitting that a minimalist, dyed in the wool at Phoebe Philo’s Céline, would take over at Bottega Veneta. Italian brands may call to mind over-the-top, maximalist glamour, but Bottega Veneta’s one-time motto, which maybe doesn’t get as much play as it should these days, is ‘When your own initials are enough.’ It’s an ethos that has no need for the flashiness of logos or fleeting, gimmicky designs. And it’s one Daniel Lee was ready to embrace.
When he stepped in as Creative Director in 2018, it was in the wake of Philo’s departure from Céline. The fashion world had lost its inventive, minimalist compass. But now the torch was passed to Lee, and with his five years working under Philo at Céline as well as stints at Maison Margiela, Balenciaga and Donna Karan, he set out to imprint his own modern mark on the house codes of a brand built on less-is-more foundations. True to form, the beauty of #newBottega (a foil for the nostalgic #oldCéline) is in its simplicity. But more than that, it’s in the idea that simple doesn’t mean boring, that you can imbue elegance and timelessness with novelty, innovation and freshness.
Handbags like The Pouch and The Cassette and a bevy of square-toed sandals may bear no logos, but their shapes, silhouettes and materials are their calling cards, and as with anything anyone likes these days, you’ll see them on influencers and all over Instagram. Fame, unfortunately, breeds fakes. To tell real from faux in the absence of overt logos, the experts, like The RealReal’s Handbags Valuation Manager Robert Finch, turn to a close look at the details of materials, hardware and craftsmanship.
Bottega Veneta by Daniel Lee Handbags
“When authenticating Bottega Veneta handbags, quality is paramount,” explains Finch. “Bottega Veneta uses leathers of the highest quality on the market, and they are typically both supple and durable.” The classic designs are made, of course, using the house’s signature Intrecciato technique. Created by weaving together thin strips of leather, a finished Intrecciato handbag appears simple and luxurious, yet requires hours of labor by master craftsmen. “While this basketweave is mimicked by other designers, the quality and precision of Bottega Veneta’s craftsmanship stands apart from the rest,” says Finch. And Daniel Lee has taken the spirit of Intrecciato in bold new directions with designs that blow up the proportions and add to the texture of the original. Styles like The Cassette, with its puffy, woven leather and totes featuring the jumbo widths of the maxi weave nod to the past while paving the way for pieces that people want to carry today.
When inspecting the new designs for authenticity, Finch pays special attention to the materials and construction. “Original techniques we are seeing in Daniel Lee’s work are most notably the padding design element, which is found throughout his latest collections, as well as the looping technique we see on The Sponge,” he notes. Lee has also introduced richness in his choice of textiles, which builds on the brand’s heritage of subtle luxury while allowing it to feel new. “The Cassette is made of calfskin versus lambskin, making it much more durable than a softer leather,” says Finch. And like the original Intrecciato, “The sides of the leather pieces should not be stitched down. Instead they are compressed and embossed down.” This is a technique that requires time many counterfeiters are simply not willing to spend to achieve high quality construction. “The leather is also double-faced, so the lining should reflect the outside,” Finch notes.
The Sponge, a textural take on The Pouch, and The Shoulder, a version of The Pouch, are uniquely constructed. “The gathered techniques seen on The Shoulder and The Pouch bring a fresh feel to the brand’s tradition of craftsmanship — it still feels like Bottega Veneta, but it’s not all about Intrecciato. The body of The Sponge is made from knitted nappa leather, and nappa leather loops are attached throughout. There should be knotted ties on each side of the bag, and on crossbody versions, there should be a strap with a single stitch running down the center,” notes Finch.
But authenticity is more than skin-deep. Be sure to look inside a bag to inspect the details. “Counterfeiters are usually going to spend 90% of their time focusing on the outside of a bag, because that’s what creates the illusion — the inside is where they save all the money,” Finch explains. This is where you should find some of the brand markings that are important indicators of authenticity. Notably, unlike at many other brands when new creative directors have arrived, the Bottega Veneta font and logo have remained the same under Daniel Lee. On The Cassette and The Pouch, you should find an interior brand stamp blind embossed with the Bottega Veneta logo and ‘Made In Italy.’ On newer styles, you should also find an interior tag with a unique serial number on it. Counterfeiters often get details such as this one wrong. “On a real Bottega Veneta bag from the early 2000s to now, the interior tag should be paper-like and feature the Bottega Veneta logo and an individual serial number,” notes Finch. “This tag should have a raw edge, as opposed to a cleanly cut edge, which some counterfeits may have.” If you have an older, non-Daniel Lee era bag, the interior tag may be different, and sometimes note the style number, leather type, year and color instead of a serial number.
Another important authenticity factor? Hardware. “The buckle found on The Cassette as well as the tarnished hardware seen on many pieces are inspired by vintage Bottega Veneta hardware,” says Finch. “On The Cassette, the front slide lock and the side of the buckle should be cleanly engraved with ‘Bottega Veneta’ in the traditional brand font.” Pay close attention to the interior zippers as well. “Bottega Veneta uses Riri zippers which is denoted with Riri branding on the base of the zipper or with a butterfly design which is a Bottega Veneta signature logo,” says Finch.
Bottega Veneta by Daniel Lee Shoes
Much like the handbags he’s designed for the house, Daniel Lee’s shoes for Bottega Veneta incorporate house signatures while pushing the envelope with off-beat, vintage-inspired styles. And they’re equally coveted. As soon as his sleek square-toe sandals and Intrecciato-covered mules and pumps stepped out on the runway, they were everywhere.
So how to tell if your pair is the real deal? “Quality is a consistent theme for Bottega Veneta and their shoes are no exception,” says Finch. “Bottega Veneta shoes are made in Italy and their construction is some of the best in the market.” As with Bottega Veneta handbags, you’ll want to look at the brand markings on shoes. “Branding has changed over time from a metallic foil stamp, to an embroidered tag and most recently to a blind stamping, all with consistent brand fonts. ‘Vero Cuoio’ (genuine leather) is seen stamped on some older styles, similar to most heritage luxury brands, but newer pairs may not have this marking. The stitching used should be even and consistent throughout.”
Bottega Veneta by Daniel Lee Clothing
Puffy, quilted skirts akin to armor. Luxurious cashmere sweaters with woven details that again call to mind Intrecciato. Unexpected, but very coveted leather shorts. Daniel Lee’s ready-to-wear designs telegraph the same sense of expressive minimalism and quiet yet subversive luxury as his handbags and shoes. And just the same, they are made of high-quality materials and boast impeccable construction. The interior tags can be a key to telling real from faux.
“The clothing tags changed incredibly under Daniel Lee,” explains Finch. “Looking at older pieces, it was always a really subtle, small brand tag in taupe, grey or off-white colors that said ‘Bottega Veneta.’” Like Lee’s designs, the new tags are both minimal and bold. “Now most pieces have a really big white tag that has the logo on a stark white backing in giant black letters, which is very different from the previous tags. The interior tags are also made of a white silky material with a black font. Under the brand logo, you should find the season and the collection the piece is from. On newer leather pieces, a special leather tag can be seen. This tag should be blind stamped with the logo and country of origin. It should be squared off and attached to the piece with two stitches on either side.” Most clothing tags will also include a style number which is sometimes searchable, another way to cross-check authenticity. “It’s a six-digit number on the interior care tag, and it should be printed in black like the rest of the tag,” explains Finch.