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NEW YORK — Emanuele Della Valle is out to build an empire of his own.
The surname Della Valle might be synonymous worldwide with luxury goods — his father Diego owns Tod’s Group, among other holdings — and the family has financially backed Emanuele’s year-old venture Mediabend Capital. But while declining to reveal the amount of the investment, he stressed Mediabend is totally his baby and unrelated to his family business.
This story first appeared in the February 6, 2012 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
He certainly has moved fast. After introducing his first Internet venture last fall, Della Valle will launch another, LifestyleMirror, on Feb. 13 right in the middle of New York Fashion Week. He plans to introduce two more online entities under the Mediabend umbrella by year’s end, and while wary about revealing the concepts, Della Valle promises the two will cater to niche audiences.
LifestyleMirror is a shoppable, digital magazine with premium editorial content spanning fashion, beauty, travel, men’s wear and lifestyle interests (even shoppable horoscopes) that’s billed as a “new way to discover and instantly shop for style online.”
Della Valle stresses that it’s not an e-commerce site — although “it’s e-commerce heavy” and all product featured on the site has a direct link to a point of purchase, from a coat sold on Mr Porter to the balloons from 1-800-Balloons that Daphne Guinness was photographed alongside in the site’s first weekly feature. Guinness (and her Manhattan apartment) was selected as the subject for the first anchor story, a component to the online portal that will change weekly — as opposed to the rest of the site’s content, which will be updated several times a day, according to Della Valle.
“The mission is to build a platform of digital media brands from scratch. As a publication, LifestyleMirror is a mix between a concept store and a megamall. The content is beautiful but it’s something right for the fast and modern consumer. It’s not a fashion Web site. It’s lifestyle.”
Which is good, since Della Valle seems far removed from the fashionista, calling himself “a guy’s guy” and preferring monogrammed navy blue three-button or double-breasted blazers made by Caraceni in Milan or Duca Sartoria in New York that he pairs with Brooks Brothers button downs and Levi’s jeans. The only hint of pure fashion are a pair of custom-made, crystal-framed, blue tinted glasses from Selima with his initials, EDV, inscribed on the right arm.
Co-founder Francesco Carrozzini serves as creative director of LifestyleMirror and former stylist Chelsea Gombes as editor in chief. Della Valle has also plucked a handful of former editors from the likes of Harper’s Bazaar and Town & Country to head up editorial production on the site. The team will curate content and style selections on the site, but Della Valle is also eager to engage end users and have readers become “contributors” — where sharing of content is then encouraged through various social media channels.
“We will always go from left to right, from high to low, as we never want to be stuck with [only] uberaffluent price points,” Della Valle said. “If there is a vintage dress featured [in a story], then we will give suggestions in price ranging from Topshop to L’Wren Scott.”
The site will be free and Della Valle said he plans to generate sales in three ways: advertising, sponsorships from retailers and brands and a percentage of any sales driven to a retailer’s site.
The revenue model differs from Della Valle’s first new media venture under Mediabend, Elizabeth Street. A sleekly designed digital destination for the chic mom, it launched as an iPad app in November and a Web site will follow March 1. Aimed at filling a void in the nascent marketplace of chic moms needing an online venue to liaise, the app is a far cry from the current “mommy blogs” that exist.
Elizabeth Street is a $4.99-a-month iPad app, a price Della Valle justifies because the site is a “service” that provides users with information ranging from day care, organic food preparation and children’s clothing to planning exotic yet family-friendly vacations by city. However, once elizabethstreet.com launches next month, the basic app will become free, and a full version with customizable itineraries will become $4.99. As for the site, which will be ad-free for the first few months, Della Valle wants to “offer a pure editorial experience for an audience — moms — that may be alienated by ads before they become constant and loyal users.”