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MILAN — Tod’s continues to stitch its ties to the art world.

This story first appeared in the February 1, 2008 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

In its latest undertaking, called “Looking at Tod’s,” the brand has recruited three international artists to create quirky installations as window displays. The idea is the fruit of the friendship between Tod’s Group chairman and chief executive officer Diego Della Valle and famed Italian architect Giulio Cappellini.

“I believe that it’s increasingly important to pay attention to the strong relationship between art and fashion to always create new display concepts that are close to our customers,” said Della Valle. “Store windows are a brand’s business card, and for this reason, ours will be modern, impactful and influenced by modern art without forgetting quality and luxury.”

The artists — Patrick Norguet, Ineke Hans and Brit duo Edward Barber and Jay Osgerby — flew to Italy to familiarize themselves with Tod’s spring lineup and subsequently concocted props to dress the windows of Tod’s flagships, including those in New York, Milan, Tokyo, Paris and Hong Kong. Each installation will be on display for two months until June, when the project winds down.

“It was a challenging project because I didn’t know the brand that well, but I was very impressed with the craftsmanship and details of the products and by the fact that it’s not edgy at all costs,” said Barber, who also worked on Stella McCartney’s retail concept.

Norguet, who did the Louis Vuitton windows for two years, agreed: “Tod’s isn’t so fashion [driven], but I appreciated the industrial aspect of the production. To me, it’s the new Hermès.”

In creative terms, Norguet created a colorful and graphic composition by juxtaposing different-sized triangles made with draining-board-style metal. The Dutch Hans, acclaimed for her surreal and irreverent style, perceived Tod’s accessories as goodies and created large patisserie containers made with teak wood and glass. Barber and Osgerby focused on erstwhile square camera lenses for inspiration, reproducing a larger and lacquered version with strategic spotlights irradiating the product.

Art aside, on Tod’s retail radar for 2008 is a spate of openings. The company will land in India for the first time with stores in Mumbai, New Delhi and Bangalore, followed by four outposts in both China (Sanya, Chongqing, Kunming and Qingdao) and Japan (Kyoto, Kokura, Ikebukuro and Sendai), a flagship in South Korea and stores in Rome, Berlin and Dallas.