From afar, one might mistake the black crocodile skin of a Bottega Veneta Cabat bag for regular calf leather. But up close, there’s no mistaking the exotic skin that forms the interwoven strips of the brand’s famously logo-free tote: The leather is textured, subtly glossy and – somewhat unusual for this material – soft and pliable. A lengthy finishing treatment called nappatura softens the skin, while retaining its other characteristics.
Costing $112,300, this relatively understated, made-to-order item – which was on display during the recent reopening of Bottega Veneta’s Ion Orchard boutique – does not come cheap. But consider what goes into the making of each of these totes. Designed by the brand’s creative director, Tomas Maier, in 2001, the Cabat is hand-woven over two days by a leather artisan, using strips of double-faced leather. A large, exotic-skin Cabat requires 100 leather strips, each 1.6m long – this is equivalent to a substantial 12 skins.
Now that Bottega Veneta’s customisation atelier has made its Singapore debut at the brand’s Ion Orchard boutique, black crocodile leather is but one of many materials with which fans can customise their Cabat. An optional finishing touch? The owner’s initials – the only name that matters, according to Bottega Veneta.