Tod’s president and chief executive officer Diego Della Valle has never quite seen a moment in fashion like today’s current climate.
“There are some brands that are incredible,” Della Valle said. “An incredible story, big reputation, doing incredible work in the last 50 years, and now, success arrives in one pair of rubber shoes.”
Describing the above as “dangerous,” the head of the Italian group, known for its leather expertise, said squaring craftsmanship with brand hype is something that prestigious companies and luxury stalwarts like his need to navigate in a new fashion order.
“This is a real situation. Sometimes the new customers don’t know anything about this type of brand because it’s very young people and nobody explains what there is behind the name of brands,” Della Valle said.
As the group faces a transition year — its most recent earnings were soft and the group is trying out more frequent product drops — Della Valle said the crux lies not in abandoning the house’s heritage but instead in the way they “approach the communication, the creativity in the product.”
He believes the key is to forget the old system of a new collection every six months, but instead to move toward one where there is a constant flow of new product into Tod’s stores on a monthly basis. Today’s consumer will no longer patiently wait for half a year to see the latest collection, but wants to go to the stores on a regular basis and see something new.
“The magic word is storytelling,” he said, one method of which is to start rethinking the creative core. The other is to stress the Tod’s brand Made in Italy heritage, but also to utilize the latest technology to ensure that artisanal heritage remains current and exciting.
“We need to decide if it’s good to have one designer or more designers. Many companies had success between the designer and brand managers, it was the secret for many companies. I think if we need to move the attention every month, every week, we need more than one designer,” Della Valle said.
And in fact, since the exit of Alessandra Facchinetti in 2016, there has not been a sole creative director overseeing the group’s main brand, Tod’s, but instead that job is done jointly by a team.
“It’s what I call the director of the orchestra, the man or woman that guides the company in the same DNA of the brand with a clear concept. At the same time, a man or woman who chooses what to do during the year with collaborations, limited editions, special projects, and sees what the market wants.”
Acknowledging it is not easy to shift a legacy firm’s way of working — especially the logistics of factories that have operated for decades on a seasonal calendar instead of a monthly one — Della Valle is yet hopeful of the possibilities in the near future.
Combining the house’s expertise and heritage with “the web, with the ideas, with celebrities, with everything the young generation loves, I think it’s possible to have one company with a medium- to long-term progress,” he said.