By  on July 1, 2010

Bottega Veneta men’s collection has hit the ground running.

Although still in its infancy, the men’s line of PPR-owned Bottega Veneta is having a growth spurt, according to creative director Tomas Maier.

After unveiling his traveling-man-themed spring men’s wear show last week, the German designer, who joined Bottega Veneta in 2001, is gearing up for a flurry of new projects, including the label’s first men’s-only advertising campaign in August and a new men’s watch. Men’s-only stores and a men’s fragrance are also in the works.

“Everything is in balance; it’s the right time for men’s wear,” Maier said in an interview in the company’s pristine showroom in Milan a few days after the June runway show.

Added Marco Bizzarri, Bottega Veneta’s chief executive officer, “The category is growing rapidly and there’s great potential for the future.”

While Bizzarri declined to break out Bottega Veneta’s men’s wear figures, the label overall logged the strongest individual performance in PPR’s luxury portfolio, Gucci Group, with a first-quarter sales increase of 9.5 percent.

Launched in 2004, Maier put men’s wear on the runway in 2006. Ever since, his collections have won plaudits for textile research and vivid contrasts of structure and fluidity.

Maier said he wanted to communicate that sense of precision in Bottega Veneta’s first global advertising campaign for men, shot by Robert Longo, the American artist. Longo drew inspiration from his “Men in the Cities” series, the late Seventies graphite drawings that depict sharply dressed businessmen and women contorted in emotion-packed positions.

“It is very dynamic, very sharp, very precise,” Maier explained. “It mixes different elements. From the silhouette of the clothes and the eccentricity of the moment, as well as the study of certain iconic pieces that are in the campaign, it reflects very much what the Bottega man is about — a confident individual.”

The ad will run globally in select titles, including GQ, Vanity Fair, The New Yorker, Vogue Hommes, L’Uomo Vogue and Brutus in September.

Central to Maier’s men’s aesthetic is functionality: real clothes for real men.

“Men’s clothing should be functional. I think as beautiful as it is, as beautiful as it looks on a page of a magazine, it’s not functional if you don’t have a consumer,” he said.

The Bottega Veneta men’s range currently includes ready-to-wear, accessories, shoes, bags and jewelry. Timepieces are next. A unisex watch, dubbed BVX and made by Sowind Group, owner of Swiss watchmaker Girard-Perregaux, will hit select Bottega Veneta stores by the end of the year, Maier said. A men’s fragrance could follow, he added.

The watch features 18-karat rose-gold components, a brushed-titanium case and a intrecciato crocodile strap with an adjustable clasp in the shape of the brand’s signature belt buckle. In tune with the Bottega Veneta philosophy, the logo is not on the face but engraved on one of the elements of the mechanism.

“Men are so different to seduce and conquer as a client. They’re much more difficult than women. If you betray him and it doesn’t work, he’ll never come back. But once you get them, they’ll stay with you. They’re more loyal,” he said.

To increase loyalty, Maier said he was in the process of considering a men’s-only retail concept.

“I want the category to evolve, to provide more dedicated space and even more dedicated stores to men’s categories,” Maier said, though he declined to provide a time frame.

“We recently opened a men’s shop in Harrods, and we will continue to open shops in appropriate locations as opportunities arise,” Bizzarri added. Bottega Veneta counts 135 stores worldwide. The company has opened a series of men’s-only sales points in department stores including Harrods, which bowed last year.

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