How Tomas Maier Saved Bottega Veneta With a Woven Bag

This week's New Yorker offers an inside look at the designer credited with pulling the label back from the brink of bankruptcy, Tomas Maier.

In John Colapinto's piece (available online to New Yorker subscribers), the designer is portrayed as a fifty-something "hipster monk," raised in the Black Forest of Germany and determined to create perfection in everything around him. When he took the reins at BV in 2001, the retail world was in the throes of a passionate affair with It-bags, covered in flashy logos and all manner of bells and whistles. (As Suzy Menkes tells Colapinto: "There was a stage when, however unappealing something was, if it had enough logos written all over it, somebody seemed to buy it.")

But Maier chose to buck the trend and instead create a simple, woven leather tote called a Cabat, which points out is not only handmade, but only one person can work on any bag at one time. Needless to say, the price tag on the Cabat is a whopper, and there's often a wait-list. But despite the hefty cost and the limited marketing of the bag, the Cabat became one of the label's best-selling items, and -- the New Yorker reports -- Maier has managed to increase Bottega Veneta's sales 800 percent in the past nine years. To be sure, the bag is just the symbol of a larger Maier strategy at work, but it's a strategy that certainly seems to be paying off.

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