Byline: Kavita Daswani

HONG KONG — Diego Della Valle has his eye on Asia.
The Tod’s president and designer focused on the region late last year, when he arrived in Hong Kong from Milan with a team to preview Tod’s spring 2000 collections to local customers. The enthusiastic reaction was several hundred orders placed in the first couple of days — months before the line was even scheduled to arrive here.
Such is the buoyancy of the Asian market, post-recession, that the Italian accessories house has elected to open two headquarters here to oversee expansion in the region.
Within two weeks, the upscale footwear and accessories firm established a beachhead office in Tokyo and made plans for another in Hong Kong — the latter to oversee business in Southeast Asia, and to coordinate activities between Tod’s retail representative in Hong Kong, Joyce Boutiques, and its agent in Taiwan, Dickson Concepts.
“The Asian market is very important to us, and the business here continues to expand,” said Della Valle, who was in Hong Kong for the unveiling late last month. “The opening of a regional headquarters here was a logical step and a necessary one.”
He added that the percentage of Asian visitors to Tod’s stores in Rome, Milan, New York, Los Angeles, Berlin and Paris continues to grow. The Far East market, including Japan, currently accounts for 15 percent of Tod’s international business. There are now 13 points of sale in Asia, eight of them in Japan.
In the next two years, Della Valle said he hoped to have about 30 stores in the region. Imminently planned are the first Tod’s boutique in Singapore and a second store in Hong Kong. Tod’s executives are also scouting for opportunities in other Southeast Asian countries.
Della Valle said Asian consumers look for the same things in luxury products as their Western counterparts do.
“I don’t think people’s nationalities have much to do with the products they buy,” he said. “In fact, I’ve noticed, and truly believe, that the common denominator that runs through all Tod’s clients is a lifestyle, a profound respect for quality and the need for a modern, contemporary and timeless product.”