By  on February 25, 2010

MILAN — Diego Della Valle has built Hogan in his typical slow but steady way — and now he wants to take it up a notch.

The brand’s growth — sales rose 7.6 percent last year to 256.9 million euros, or $349 million, despite the recession — has been based on discretion and strong core values rather than bells and whistles. Not that Della Valle, the founder and chairman of Hogan parent Tod’s Group, isn’t above the occasional injection of buzz — coming soon is a collaboration with a marquee name, which he declined to reveal at this stage.

“The concept of elegance has changed and I think Hogan has interpreted that change by marrying traditional concepts with new techniques and mixing comfort with aesthetics. To me, Hogan is a cool, lifestyle brand,” said Della Valle in an exclusive interview. Sporting a tweed cashmere blazer over an oxford-cloth shirt, jeans and black Hogans, Della Valle discussed the brand’s future.

He is seeking to boost Hogan’s apparel so that within the next few years sales will be split equally between accessories and clothing. Hogan’s winged logo was also slightly revised to be more visible.

Hogan introduced apparel two years ago and Della Valle tapped Thakoon Panichgul to oversee the collection, a collaboration that ended last season. Now the line is being focused around the concept that Hogan’s consumers are fashion conscious but not fashion obsessed. As Della Valle puts it, Hogan “winks at the moods of the moment but doesn’t want to be a product that lasts three months.”

An eyewear extension was launched last fall.

Hogan, whose sales mainly derive from Europe, and more specifically Italy, Germany and France, as well as Asia, is also looking to boost its presence in the U.S. Della Valle is scouting for a location in New York for the brand’s first U.S. store, which he hopes to open by early next year.

He’s also working on a new virtual concept à la Andy Warhol called The Factory, or an online platform where creative minds would come together and swap notes under Hogan’s mentorship. It would also be a pool for new talents.

Speaking of the U.S., when asked what his plans are for his investment in Saks Inc., Della Valle said he is evaluating what to do. “Right now, it’s at standstill but it was a great investment and it’s a great brand,” he said. Della Valle last year paid a total of $30.3 million to buy 5.9 percent of Saks.

As for Hogan, the brand continues to push into other international markets. The company has 24 stores worldwide plus 1,000 points of sales, and will inaugurate its first flagship in Shanghai this fall. Early last year the brand introduced an airier store concept based on brown leather, steel and teak wood that is less product-centric and more lifestyle driven.

Since its launch in 1986, Hogan has carved out a niche with a contemporary urban spin on technical sneakers, a style the design team evolves each season. Less than 20 percent of the range is strictly of-the-season. Conceived for 24/7 wear, Della Valle considers Hogan a “passepartout,” or the kind of product one can wear to board a plane, to the office or to hang out with friends. The label has a strong Hollywood following, having been worn by the likes of Madonna, Kate Bosworth, Jennifer Garner, Scarlett Johansson, Charlize Theron, Naomi Watts and Colin Firth.

“Maybe in the beginning people will buy a pair of Hogan shoes because they’re cool but then they appreciate the philosophy of lifestyle that characterizes the product,” said Della Valle. “We’re not interested in fashion victims, because they are volatile clients.”

load comments
blog comments powered by Disqus