PARIS – Bottega Veneta has named Daniel Lee as its creative director, effective July 1.
A graduate of Central Saint Martins, Lee was most recently director of ready-to-wear at Céline, owned by rival French conglomerate LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton. This follows earlier stints at Maison Margiela, Balenciaga and Donna Karan.
The 32-year-old British designer succeeds Tomas Maier, who helped shape and elevate Bottega Veneta for 17 years.
François-Henri Pinault, chairman and chief executive officer of Bottega Veneta’s parent company Kering, has a track record of appointing little-known designers at its top brands. The most successful recent example is Alessandro Michele, who has powered a spectacular turnaround at the group’s cash-cow brand Gucci.
In a statement welcoming Lee, Pinault said: “The singularity of his vision inspired by a very personal creative approach convinced me that he was best able to open a new chapter in the history of the house. His work is characterized by great rigor, a mastery of studio expertise, a true passion for materials and an energy that I cannot wait to see take shape at Bottega Veneta.”
Under Maier’s tenure, revenues went from 48 million euros to almost 1.2 billion in 2017, representing a compound annual growth rate of 24 percent, according to Luca Solca, managing director and head of luxury goods at Exane BNP Paribas.
In recent years, the brand has struggled to keep up with rapid changes in the consumer landscape, as demand waned in its key market, Asia, and it failed to tap into a Millennial audience.
In 2016, just days after the brand’s 50th anniversary, Kering brought in former Hugo Boss chief Claus Dietrich Lahrs as chief executive officer, succeeding Carlo Alberto Beretta.
Despite the brand’s ongoing turnaround efforts, revenues at Bottega Veneta were down 6.8 percent in the first quarter, even as parent company Kering reported a 27.1 percent jump in sales.
“Daniel Lee has a deep understanding of the house’s current challenges both in terms of creation and development,” Lahrs said in Friday’s statement.
“He will bring to Bottega Veneta a new and distinctive creative language that will continue building the house’s success based on the ambitious foundations already developed over recent years,” the executive added.
Lee said: “I’m both honored and excited to continue the legacy that has been created at Bottega Veneta over the last five decades. Maintaining the ingrained codes of the house, craftsmanship, quality and sophistication, I look forward to evolving what has gone before, while contributing a new perspective and modernity.”
Bottega Veneta recently opened a flagship on Madison Avenue in New York, in tandem with a big fashion show, and will unveil another in Tokyo’s Ginza district at the end of the year in a bid to raise its visibility.
The company is also set to renovate 30 stores out of its network of 270 and enrich its offer of small leather goods to entice Millennial consumers. “We are quite confident that Bottega Veneta will return to a normal growth rhythm this year,” Pinault said earlier this year.