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Fashion Use To Be More Joyful: Designer Tomas Maier On 20 Years In The Biz

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This year Bottega Veneta’s creative director Tomas Maier is celebrating 20-years of his namesake label. To commemorate he has designed the TM20 bag, which is available from the brand’s website and in-store. Decorated with the designer’s signature spidery palm leaf motif, it features a thick guitar strap handle that can be removed. This playful shoulder bag comes in metallic pink, mint green and blue. It perfectly typifies his design philosophy.

© Tomas Maier

After studying his customer for two decades, he knows what they like. Maier’s work makes the most of lush fabrication, but there's an easy sensibility to his pieces that are engineered to fit and to work. Take the TM20, which has all the appeal of a punchy trend piece, yet it is perfectly weighted and sized for a woman that lives in the real world. He says he took ’elements relevant to the brand’ like ‘palm trees’ but modified them to make them more comfortable to wear.

Though he’s swift to move to the beat of the age, Maier has seen the fashion industry change a lot since he launched his eponymous line. ‘The process is the same, each designer has their method. I begin with colour, fabric and then shape.’ Maier explains to Grazia before adding, ‘Technology has advanced in terms of development and also the ability to reach the clients more directly and quickly.’

As pre-collections and cruise lines have been squeezed into the fashion calendar and the demand for newness has never been more desired, Maier thinks ‘fashion was more joyful than it is now’. He laments that ‘creativity outweighed commerce’ and unlike in 1997 (when Maier launched his label) the system is dictated by how a collection sells. With data being mined at every opportunity, the way a brand designs is driven by how well a shape sold last season as much as how the zeitgeist is translated into a trend. Yet, against what Maier sees as odds he's carved a niche that's seen him future-proofed for a further twenty years, at least.