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BEVERLY HILLS — “I’m home,” Diego Della Valle said as he touched down at Tod’s Rodeo Drive flagship.
This story first appeared in the April 19, 2010 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
The chairman and chief executive officer of Tod’s SpA arrived here Thursday to launch Tod’s new store design, based on the interior of a home. The once minimalist white-walled and tan leather three-story space now has a warm, residential feel — albeit with a sleek, midcentury modern vibe.
“The idea is to give to our customers a good welcome home,” Della Valle said. “We’ve had a strong relationship with them for the last 30 years and, for many customers, Tod’s now is a family brand. The message is, ‘Please come back to our home, your home.’ It’s not important whether you buy or not, but we want to show you what we can offer while you take time, have a coffee, have a stress-free shopping moment.”
Seeking to differentiate Tod’s from rival retailers, Della Valle said, “Our customers travel the world, and they don’t want to see the same thing in Milan, London and New York. Yesterday I was in Milan, today I’m in L.A., and Monday I’ll be in New York. I like if I walk between Rodeo Drive, Madison Avenue and Via Spiga to have a good reason for a visit, no?”
The first floor is dedicated to the women’s collection, with the house’s signature driving moccasins and handbags featured near the entrance. Where there once were shelves and glass cases, there are now vintage teak credenzas and round tables showcasing the merchandise. The three-story wall that runs alongside one side of the entryway features shelves piled with coffee-table books and other vintage home accessories.
The middle of the floor features a living room vignette of low-slung sofas and Danish chairs upholstered in vintage gray, tan and brown linen. In the rear of the floor is the first U.S. custom corner — a choose-your-own-color and leather program that has only been available in the Milan, Paris and Munich stores.
The men’s collection is on the second floor, where a vintage modular desk holds shoes and leather accessories, while a long dining room like table opposite another sitting area shows off more shoes.
The third-floor VIP area was designed by Oscar-winning set designer Dante Ferretti, a close friend of Della Valle’s. The mood is evocative of a Forties movie set, with darkened mirrors on the walls and red leather Art Deco style club chairs, opening up to a sunny terrace with painted wrought iron tables and red-cushioned chairs.
“The message is our company doesn’t follow the fast-fashion strategy,” Della Valle said. “We want to be the best handmade products and fantastic materials. We don’t do product for three months. It is iconic and long-term.”
Tod’s plans to roll out the residential-style concept in all its flagships, each with furnishings reflective of the locale. Della Valle said he chose Los Angeles as the first test store because of the high concentration of VIP clients and Hollywood fans such as Leonardo DiCaprio and Katie Holmes.
But this year has ushered in a new focus on the real-life customer.
“It was a simple strategy that arrived during one meeting: Why don’t we try to show who we are? Usually in advertising campaigns we make a set for models and try to create a special world. For us, this was easy because this is our world.”
It’s not a world without challenges, as luxury has struggled to rebound, but Della Valle has taken a straightforward approach.
“Our strategy is, ‘Don’t change what you are doing. Don’t forget who you are.’ The business day by day is bigger. The first quarter was very good. I think between now and the end of the year, it’s possible to have good news about numbers and turnover.”
In terms of innovation, Della Valle pointed to quality control as the company strives to create supply to meet the demand.
He considers the China market “a potential new big market. I think that people there have a very strong sensibility about quality. They want status symbols. But when you win the test in a market like California, everything after that is easier to do. When you are strong in America, Asia follows.”