INTRODUCING: LIDO VENEZIA
After working for leading Italian and French luxury fashion houses, Marco Bottoli founded Lido Venezia to reinvent the concept of real luxury, which seemed to him it has been lost these days; combining contemporary and innovative design with unique materials and antique production techniques. In his debut collection, he reinterprets classic shapes and traditional materials into contemporary products, always airing a Venetian point of view. All bags come in numbered editions and very small batches to allow real artisan manufacturing, hence giving time to the brand’s suppliers to work in a sustainable way and achieve the best quality possible. Besides premium materials and bespoke craftsmanship, the bags’ signature jewel closure is also hard to miss – only the owner knows the secret mechanism to open it. We caught up with Bottoli to discuss Lido Venezia debut collection and inspirations, his brand’s business model and future plans including opening his first boutique.
What is your background and what led you to creating Lido Venezia?
My first job was in Investment Banking, before moving on to leather goods which is my real passion. I spent one year in a small leather workshop watching the master, and learning how to make a pattern and stitch a bag by myself. My first real job in the industry was as a junior accessories developer in Marc Jacobs, and after that I spent the last 10 years working for different high-end fashion houses. I decided to create Lido as I was tired of what luxury products came to mean today. Spending a lot of money does not guarantee you anything; expensive products can be almost as poorly made as the cheaper ones, often created in an unethical way without respect for the people or the environment; they look more and more alike, made with the same materials and standardized production techniques, usually causing designers to repeat themselves. So, I came back to Venice – the city I was born – to try something different; find a way to create handbags that are as good as the ones sold from major luxury brands but at fair prices, and produce timeless pieces inspired by the beauty of Venice that are not driven by fashion trends, marketing statistics or seasonal mood.
What does limited edition mean in your case, and you is this a challenge in order to keep up with the retailers’ demand for stock?
The answer to this question is linked to who we are. When we started Lido we decided to be modern-time artisans, and this is not a claim; it is the reality. An artisan is somebody that has mastered the technique of making a beautiful product, and then sells it for a decent price. The product is made by the artisan himself or with the help of other artisans and masters, not by an industrial plant. This means that we can’t (neither we want) to produce in huge quantities. There are retailers able to understand and appreciate the value of this, and we are just starting meeting them for potential partnerships. But we are not going to lose our identity, and become a fashion brand to accommodate the retailers’ demand for stock.
What is your opinion on trends in the handbag industry? Are there any that you have implemented in your collection?
If you are a big fashion house, you first goal is to sell as much as you can; your second goal is to sell more then you sold the previous year. To do this, of course you have to try create – if you are good enough – or follow fashion trends, as the majority of customers want to buy the last must-have bag – or if they can’t afford the original one, a copy of it. I don’t criticize or disapprove of this; it is just what fashion is. But we decided to be different. This doesn’t necessary mean that we never follow fashion trends, or that we want to be different for the sake of it. For example, in our first collection there is a lot of velvet, one of the biggest trends this winter. But we used it because it is a traditional Venetian material we wanted to play with, not because it was trendy. And we will probably use it again next winter – who knows whether it will be in fashion then!
Your jewel lock invention is genius! Apart from a great product, what other elements should young brands establish to stand out?
Thank you for the compliment! I think that every Lido Venezia product should be recognizable for 1) its unique design: for sure the design and volume of our products are very identifiable, even if they are not going to please everyone; 2) the materials we use: like the velvet jacquard, the chains and many other lines we are working on right now, are a rework of traditional Venetian elements and stories. So, they are very unique and not easy to find anywhere else; 3) the value for money: I don’t think there are other brands offering Lido quality for the same price as Lido. If we were going to sell through retail as the majority of our competitors, our bags would cost much more.
Are you interested in attending tradeshows to find stockists or you prefer selling direct to the customer?
Our business plan is based on selling through our ecommerce, and soon through our first shop which we are opening in Venice, to be able to keep our prices low as possible, and offer the best value for money. We are keen to keep as small as possible the quantities we sell to retailers, as we don’t apply the very high markups that are the standard in the fashion industry to our products, so selling to retailers won’t make any profit.
In your opinion, how important is preserving the “Made in Italy” tradition to up-and-coming Italian designers?
For us, producing in Italy is essential as it is in our DNA. It would make no sense to design Venetian jacquard or use Murano glass accessories, and produce them in China; plus, it would be unfair to use Venice as a branding and then produce somewhere else. But at the same time, we don’t think a well-made product absolutely needs to be made in Italy. There are excellent artisans and leather good factories in Spain, in France, in China, in India and in many other countries; they are able to make bags that are as good as the made in Italy ones. We could make a very long list of luxury brands producing in China and putting a nice “Made in Italy” stamp on the final product. Asia is full of Italian masters sent by luxury brands in the last 20 years to build leather goods factories and teach how to make perfect products. When a “pretending to be made in Italy” 2000 euro bag is made in China, the problem is not the quality – which can be all right – but the fraud for the customer. So to return to your question: we think that nowadays a new Italian designer can make nice bags in many different places; the important thing is for them to be honest with the costumers.
Have you had a best-seller piece yet? What have you figured out about your clients and what they look for in your brand?
We didn’t perform any kind of marketing analysis before to launch Lido, and we don’t really design our product with a specific customer in mind. We just design bags that we like to wear, and we would not be able to find from any other brand. To be quite honest, we still don’t think our customers are represented by a specific demographic or we should target any specific country, as we got orders from very different places and both from young girls and older ladies. For sure, a Lido customer is somebody that cares about quality, but above all somebody who is not afraid to use their own fashion judgment when they choose a bag, without being influenced by trends or what other people are wearing.
I’ve read that Lido Venezia is your biggest source of inspiration, but are there any challenges of having a company been based in a small town?
Actually, for us living in Venice is like a designer dream, as you are almost overwhelmed by the history, the craft and the architectural beauty of the city. It is an endless source of inspiration, which we wouldn’t change with any other metropolis on the planet. And, in terms of production, we are lucky, as Venice inland is home of some of the oldest artisans, tanneries and leather workshops in Italy – don’t forget Venice is few kilometers from Bottega Veneta.
What are you currently working on and what are your future plans?
We are working right now on a couple of new versions of our Cheeky Sailors, using traditional Venetian techniques in a crazy way – and it’s going to be amazing! We are working as well on a men’s travel bag; in terms of style, it is going to look completely different from women bags, but it is still going to look very Lido. Finally, we are working on the opening of our first shop in Venice. Our long-term plan is to grow little by little, investing in communication in order for more people to know us, and opening more Lido Venezia stores in Europe.
Images © Lido Venezia