Diego Della Valle

MILAN — Chief executive officers or editors?

Italian entrepreneurs believe the strength of the brand is key for success, and investments should be channeled to keep it fresh and new, rather than focusing on its history and tradition. And to achieve this, the ceo role is morphing into that of an editor.

“We need to offer new products every month, we are like editors preparing a magazine, putting out 12 covers to tell a story about them,” said Tod’s ceo Diego Della Valle at the 10th Luxury Summit of Sole 24 Ore on Wednesday.

One single designer, he believes, is “more static,” compared with the “movement” afforded by collaborations, although consistency with the brand’s DNA remains a must.

As reported, Della Valle just presented the Tod’s No_Code project in Milan during Men’s Fashion Week — a series of capsules with different artists and designers to be dropped throughout the year. The first will be with Lapo Elkann’s Garage Italia, bowing in October. This is also to respond to customers who are increasingly individualistic, Della Valle said, adding that he is working with his artisans to speed production.

Discussing the generational change, he admitted he “like[s] to deal with brand and marketing, and delegate, as an orchestra director.”

Della Valle has set in motion changes in his management ranks, tapping Umberto Macchi di Cellere as the new ceo of Tod’s, but waved away any substantial shift in his own role.

Moncler chairman and ceo Remo Ruffini also highlighted “the new way of working. It’s like being a journalist, you need to create emotions, talk to different generations and there is no specific target, it’s more complicated,” emphasizing for this reason the strength of the brand.

Ruffini conceived the Moncler Genius project of capsule collections with designers ranging from Simone Rocha to Pierpaolo Piccioli. “The market is changing and needs new stimuli. There must be new energy to attract consumers as well as the community of wholesalers. Speed and flexibility are fundamental,” he said.

He also said this energy must be translated in the stores, “not only with windows or furniture, but creating new concepts and merchandising, triggering strong emotions.”

Asked about the public listing of the brand in 2013, Ruffini admitted he “had no choice,” to avoid a revolving door of private equity funds. He conceded the world of financial markets “is a bit weird, with evaluations that I have a hard time understanding, but I accept it.”

Marco De Benedetti, managing director of Carlyle and a former Moncler investor, said, “Staying put does not pay. What was considered a plus — tradition and history — now looks old. Consumers want brands, but innovated, they want fresh and new, everything right away and personalized.” He also took the time to highlight the role of shareholders. “They are sometimes underestimated, but we’ve seen companies underperform because of their shareholders,” he said.

Claudio Marenzi, president of Confindustria Moda, said the Italian fashion sector totals 96 billion euros, representing 35 percent of European fashion, and offers more than 700,000 jobs. Exports total 61 billion euros. And the growth potential is high.

The study “Exporting the Dolce Vita,” prepared by Centro studi di Confindustria and Prometeia, and presented at the summit by director Andrea Montanino, predicted that in the next six years, exports of Italian luxury products to new markets could increase by 40 percent to reach 15 billion euros, or by 75 percent to 18 billion euros in a more optimistic view, targeting 174 million potential new customers. The study identified China, Russia and the United Arab Emirates as top premium emerging markets, followed by Saudi Arabia, Mexico and Malaysia, which are “taking off.”

The study highlighted the risk of a “spiraling protectionist” wave from the U.S., as well as geopolitical tensions in the Middle East and Asia and sanctions against Russia.

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