If you were a fashion designer and one of the world’s most powerful luxury-goods conglomerates came knocking at your door for a stake in your business, what would be your first move? Would you stage a splashy runway show? Mount billboards starring an A-list actor? Bag some face time on the latest season of Project Runway? If you’re Tomas Maier, the answer is none of the above.
As creative director of Bottega Veneta, a position to which he was appointed by Tom Ford in 2001, Maier is certainly well-versed in the elaborate customs of the fashion set. It’s just that his namesake label, which has been operating since 1997, is a quieter affair. “I don’t think we need a show,” the German designer says. “The clothing isn’t made for that. It’s clothing that’s made in a very thoughtful way.”
Still, when Kering — the global giant that owns Gucci, Saint Laurent, Alexander McQueen, and Bottega Veneta — took a stake in his company last November, insiders wondered how it would affect Maier’s business. The designer concedes that the new capital will allow him to expand his categories, inching his ready-to-wear label to something closer to a lifestyle brand. He’ll soon be able to dress you head to toe, from wallet to bag to shoes. While that sounds ambitious, Maier won’t be throwing any curveballs. Attribute it to his Teutonic heritage, but his recent Cruise 2015 collection, for the resort season, feels tidy and simple, yet lived-in. “This is about real clothes, but casual stuff,” he explains. “This isn’t about crazy stuff.”
In an era of Instagrammable “It” items, this sort of subtlety seems borderline revolutionary. But if his clothing feels minimalist and familiar, it’s anything but quotidian. Maier’s approach to luxury lies in the lush quality of fabrics and the sophisticated insouciance that permeate pieces like his crinkled two-button slate-gray blazer or trim, forest-green leather jacket. Everything in the collection is appealing for its commercial viability, but the pieces also look considered and handsome.
Ask Maier to explain the ethos behind the line, and his answer is as unfussy as the garments. “For me it’s important that a man feels good,” he says. “I think you look good when you feel good.”
Above and below: Tomas Maier Cruise 2015 Collection