In totally unexpected fashion news, Daniel Lee will be leaving Bottega Veneta. A statement from parent company Kering was released on Wednesday where they described the surprise move as a “joint decision”.

Lee’s tenure at the Italian fashion house was an undeniable success, reinvigorating the brand’s cult-like status, blending minimalism and overt sensualism in his tactile creations.

Since joining Bottega Veneta in July of 2018, the English designer had managed to make the idioms Bottega green, pouch bags and discordant proportions part of the brand’s everyday syntax.

In fashion, as in every industry, money is often the unspoken element. Since Lee took the helm at Bottega, the brand has seen nothing but growth. Even when other brands suffered during COVID lockdowns, Bottega Veneta reported sales increase.

According to Business of Fashion, Bottega enjoyed a n increase of “2.2 percent to nearly €1.2 billion in 2019 and managed to keep growing in 2020, a year when the coronavirus pandemic saw the broader luxury market fall 23 percent.”

This success can be attributed to Lee’s knack of drumming up hype for a brand known for its stealth wealth approach.

One of his first moves as creative director was to remove the brand’s instagram account entirely – an unheard of approach in an era where influencers and social engagement was considered integral to brand communications.

Rather, Lee began to create a community of Bottega that was built upon shared artistic value and included existing fans of the brand. Good old fashioned word of mouth support. And, the creation of a digital zine that Lee curated, featuring collaborations with creatives who would lend their vision to iconic motifs of the brand. 

Despite the claim of joint decision, Kering’s wording of the relationship is in stark contrast to the work achieved by Lee during his time at the company. Lee’s official title at Bottega Veneta was creative director, but in their statement Kering defined the last three years as a collaboration.

Bottega Veneta Fall/Winter 2020 / Credit: Supplied

There’s no doubt that Lee’s work and vision transformed Bottega Veneta into a brand that spoke to a modern audience in nuanced terms.

No flashy gimmicks or logos, instead it was fashion with intellect. Lee clearly understands the growing sentiment for designs that aren’t dated two weeks after they appear, going for the long haul rather than social media’s short term memory game.

Wherever Lee goes next there’s no doubt he’ll do the same for that brand. But whoever steps in to take over the reigns at Bottega has big shoes to fill.