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MILAN — Tod’s chairman and chief executive officer Diego Della Valle has big plans to expand the luxury brand and has tapped Alessandra Facchinetti as creative director.
The designer is to oversee the women’s accessories collections as well as expand its ready-to-wear division. The first collection under Facchinetti will bow for spring 2014 during Milan Fashion Week in September.
“This is a project about luxury and culture. It’s the right moment to further boost our products that are made in Italy, with a top designer,” said an upbeat Della Valle on Wednesday morning, dressed in a blue suit and tie, at the Tod’s offices here. “She is an excellent Italian designer who knows about Made in Italy. Her being Italian is an added asset, not a secondary one.”
“It’s a great opportunity and a challenge. I feel very confident; there are many elements that we share. I’ve always worked for companies paying attention to quality and luxury,” said Facchinetti a former Gucci and Valentino head designer.
She will be based in Milan and work exclusively for Tod’s. As reported, the designer parted ways this week with Pinko president Pietro Negra, who launched the Uniqueness brand in 2011 under Facchinetti’s creative direction.
A visibly pleased Facchinetti, all dressed in white, said she still has to familiarize herself with the archives and that it was too early to provide details about her plans for the brand. “Tod’s is a point of reference in its respect for Made in Italy production and I plan to bring my experience and Italian traits to the label,” said the designer.
While premature to talk about a potential runway show, both Facchinetti and Della Valle said they were looking at alternative solutions.
Facchinetti succeeds Derek Lam, who joined Tod’s in November 2006 and left last fall. But her remit is much broader than Lam’s, who did primarily capsule collections rather than the full line of rtw Facchinetti will design.
Tod’s is the leading brand under the Tod’s SpA group, which includes Hogan, Fay and Roger Vivier. In 2012, the Tod’s brand remained the group’s core business, with sales of 569.7 million euros, or $729.2 million, up 16.8 percent from the year before.
Gains in Asia and the U.S. and a strong performance by the Tod’s and Roger Vivier brands contributed to a 7.8 percent rise in 2012 preliminary revenues, despite a drop in domestic sales.
In the period ended Dec. 31, the Italian luxury group posted preliminary sales of 963.1 million euros, or $1.23 billion, compared with 893.6 million euros, or $1.24 billion, in 2011.
Dollar amounts have been converted at average exchange rates for the periods to which they refer.
There are 190 Tod’s-branded boutiques globally and the company plans to open three new units in São Paulo, Brazil; two in Japan’s Tokyo and Hiroshima, and in France’s Strasbourg and Bordeaux, and additional stores in China.
However, Della Valle stressed that, “in a commercial world, where everyone is rushing to open new stores, and grow quickly with big double-digit leaps, we are focused on luxury and exclusivity. Exclusivity is the dream.”
Speaking on the first day of Milan Fashion Week, Della Valle also took pains to talk about Milan and the need to create “at least one big event per season,” and strong exhibitions to boost the city’s appeal — a topic top of mind among designers and executives this season. “Fashion week is a product to sell, we need someone to sell it well. It’s time for leading individuals to make themselves available.”