First came Whole Foods. Then came Bottega Veneta.
The luxury Italian brand will open a pop-up store Saturday in the hip-chasing neighborhood of Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Why, you ask? It is understood that Bottega saw the neighborhood as an untapped market for high luxury, and has also seen a growing appetite for its designs in the area. Creative director Daniel Lee is also thought to have been attracted to Williamsburg’s more recent history of artistic and counterculture movements.
Located at 33 Grand Street between Kent and Wythe Avenues, the 1,600-square-foot store will have a strong focus on accessories and a small offering of key ready-to-wear pieces — stocking an assortment of women’s handbags, shoes and small leather goods as well as a selection of men’s shoes, bags and accessories.
There will be no limited-edition product or activations made for the store — which will remain open through the end of September and is housed in a former bank. The building, which dates back to 1889, has been used as a painting studio, recording hall and a barbershop throughout its history. Bottega kept the structure’s facade and bank vault intact while building out the space.
The pop-up represents Lee’s first store concept in New York City. Bottega’s Upper East Side flagship was designed by Lee’s predecessor, Tomas Maier, and opened shortly before his departure in 2018.
But while Bottega might just be dropping into Williamsburg for the summer, its presence could represent something much larger for a neighborhood that has morphed over the last two decades from an old-timey stronghold for the Black, Latine and Jewish communities to underground haven, and now to a playground for alternatively minded bankers and KAWS sculptures.
Bottega is the first luxury brand of its ilk to set up shop in Williamsburg — and could be the tipping point for the area’s larger retail scene. Currently, prime Williamsburg “Shop Small” originals like Catbird and About Glamour sit beside larger stores like RRL, Credo Beauty and Muji — creating something of an outdoor mall reminiscent of SoHo’s early-Aughts mix. But the larger luxury groups have not been part of that conversation — until now.
In 2016, Whole Foods landed in Williamsburg — eliciting memes and a combination of widespread excitement and apprehension. The market’s arrival in Williamsburg was an acknowledgement of the area’s changing landscape — an endless sprouting of luxury condominium towers whose bourgeois residents needed a market that served their particular standards.
It was a turning point for a neighborhood that had previously prided itself on a grid of small businesses. In 2010, Duane Reade was quickly met by a spat of local boycotts when it became Williamsburg’s first 24-hour corporate pharmacy on Bedford Avenue.
But by today’s standards, that seems like a more naïve era. By the time Whole Foods arrived on the scene, it was met with a glum yet curious amusement from longtime residents. There were lines down the block (and that was in pre-COVID-19 days) to witness the store’s sculptural displays made from boxes of La Croix seltzer, the unofficial hipster champagne of the late 2010s. The installations initiated a selfie craze and in ode, the market even made La Croix-shaped desserts.
Whether Bottega’s pop-up will be met with equal adoration is yet to be seen. But it’s not unlikely that there will be similar openings to follow as Williamsburg continues on its trajectory of transformation.