Is a Bottega Veneta Bag Worth a Classic Chanel? China Is Not So Sure

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What Happened: Following Bottega Veneta’s F/W 2022 runway show, the Italian luxury brand released its new handbag, Kalimero. The unlined bucket bag, crafted entirely from calfskin leather, sports a sliding shoulder strap with a knotted end. It’s on sale through pre-order via the brand’s global official website and WeChat Mini Program for a limited time only and will ship in August. Available in four colors, it retails for nearly $9,497 (RMB 60,000) the equivalent price of Chanel’s Classic Flap bag. 

Featuring a new approach to the intreccio, Matthieu Blazy’s new Kalimero bag is woven entirely by hand. Photo: Bottega Veneta

The Jing Take: The leather bag business offers vital growth for Bottega Veneta, which is renowned for its signature Intrecciato technique (a distinctive leather weaving design). According to a report from the digital consulting firm Lectra, handbags and shoes are the main source of income for the brand: in 2020, 74 percent of their global sales came from leather goods. Moreover, 42 percent of its products are leather goods. So it’s obviously crucial the label gets this new release right. 

Matthieu Blazy has worked at Balenciaga, Raf Simons, Celine, and Calvin Klein before becoming the Ready-to-Wear creative director in 2020, so his credentials were pretty much assured. But his debut sparked a complex online discussion  and more than anything, netizens seem unsatisfied with his latest collection. Some even went so far as to comment that they could not see any products with the potential to become the next It bag.

And then there’s the unexpected price tag, which has also caused some controversy among locals. “I would rather buy Chanel for $9,497 (RMB 60,000), why should I buy an unrenowned bag in the same budget?” [email protected] Fashion life said on Xiaohongshu. 

In contrast, the average price of the first series of handbags by the brand’s previous creative director, Daniel Lee, was around $3,165 (RMB 20,000); the cost of a bag like The Pouch, or CASSETTE, was roughly $1,582 (RMB 10,000). These are all now the favored bags of their seasons, firmly in young generations’ hearts and hands.

It has always been widely accepted that luxury brands will raise their prices annually or even more frequently but always bit by bit. This move indicates that Bottega Veneta is opting out of the incremental increase structure adopted by its contemporaries. Instead of working up to a higher price, it’s choosing to release the new creative director’s first model as a high ticket item. But this is a dangerous position. Rome was not built in a day. The same can be said of a handbag’s reputation.

The Jing Take reports on a piece of the leading news and presents our editorial team’s analysis of the key implications for the luxury industry. In the recurring column, we analyze everything from product drops and mergers to heated debate sprouting on Chinese social media.

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