NEW YORK — Bottega Veneta has left Fifth Avenue for the more exclusive environs of Madison Avenue.
The Vicenza, Italy-based retailer last week closed its flagship at 699 Fifth Avenue in anticipation of the 2017 opening of a 14,908-square-foot maison at 740 Madison Avenue and 64th Street. It will be a homecoming; the company operated a flagship there from 1979 to 2004.
Bottega Veneta is operating a 4,510-square-foot temporary store selling women’s and men’s ready-to-wear, leather goods, shoes, jewelry, accessories and fragrance, at 650 Madison Avenue in the interim.
There’s no denying that the character of Fifth Avenue has changed over the years with the influx of fast-fashion retailers such as H&M, Zara, Uniqlo and Topshop, as well as the likes of Abercrombie & Fitch, American Girl and Ted Baker.
Bottega Veneta’s six-story maison on Madison will be the third worldwide, after one in Milan that bowed in 2013, and Beverly Hills, where the concept is scheduled to open in late spring.
“We think it’s time to go back to Madison Avenue,” said Carlo Beretta, chief executive officer of Bottega Veneta. “Fifth Avenue has completely changed. Today, it’s a much more commercial street. It doesn’t belong to our positioning anymore. Madison Avenue better represents our positioning and custom experience.”
Items such as the Knot clutch and Cabat, Roma and Veneta handbags in skins such as ostrich and crocodile will be available for customization. The latter is available in tie-dye, sable or glacé effects and colors such as tourmaline, burnt orange, mint and hot pink. For men, a briefcase, document case, continental or zip wallet and small leather goods can be personalized.
The maison was developed by creative director Tomas Maier to showcase the complete range of Bottega Veneta and highlight the craftsmanship of the products.
Beretta said the Madison Avenue maison “will be a strong signal to the American market and to our customers. We used to have small men’s and women’s stores on Madison Avenue. We decided to close both of them to concentrate on the new maison, a concept that has never been seen on the East Coast.”
The new maison will have “huge shoe areas for men and women,” he said. “The fastest-growing category and most important growth category is shoes. Fine jewelry is fast-growing. Fashion jewelry related to the style of our ready-to-wear and accessories collections is very accessible. It’s a starting point and a first approach to the brand. Our core leather goods continue to grow.”
Beretta envisions 10 or fewer maisons worldwide. “We know it will be a limited number,” he said. “The big fashion cities will have one — New York; Beverly Hills, Los Angeles; Paris, and Tokyo. In future, we could open a maison in China or Hong Kong.”
Each maison is specific to its location. “We protect the heritage of each place to create a singular atmosphere,” Beretta said. “The identity of the city where the maison is located is represented. In Milan, it’s the strong architecture” of the 18th-century building.
A maison requires a significant investment, Beretta said, declining to reveal costs. “The Milan maison is performing much better than traditional stores. In terms of communication, a maison conveys the lifestyle and attitude of the brand.”
Earlier this year, Bottega Veneta opened a 1,760-square-foot store at Brookfield Place in Lower Manhattan.
Bottega Veneta also is expanding its presence with wholesale partners in the U.S. such as Barneys New York, Bergdorf Goodman and Saks Fifth Avenue.
“At the end of the day, the U.S. is the most important market for luxury products,” Beretta said.