THE ITALIAN RALPH LAUREN

Made in Italy, Good value for money, Luxury, Profit & Human touch…Utopia? No, Tod’s(opia)!

According to me, Diego Della Valle is one of few shrewd modern entrepreneurs. His casual style, genteel manners, his admirable gift of the gab brought him from a small village lost in Marche region to global business footlights. Tod’s firm, named after a common American surname discovered by a young Diego during a journey in USA, is an example of “responsible economy”: Profit is still a main concern but how it is yielded today is even more crucial. All started back in 1920 with merit to Bernard-Filippo, Diego’s grandfather, who set up in Casette d’Ete a small shoes’ workshop. Dorino, his son, expanded his father limited size business, supplying big brand like Calvin Klein or Azzedine Alaia. And then Diego Della Valle got on the stage in 1978, with a rather smooth clue: Why not turning a comfortable car shoe into a casually versatile product?

“Der Kaiser von Mokassinen” , with the collaboration of his brother Andrea, created a sought-after product: The Gommino. This is a loafer crafted utterly by lynchpin Italian artisans with the 133 rubber pebbles as trademark. Everyday ostrich, alligator or lambskin leather pieces are cut, sealed and assembled maniacally by hand, rendering each shoe unique.  Mocassins represent the core business but Tod’s has been expanded also in other markets. The Group has 3 souls: casual Tod’s, sportive Hogan and elegant Fay brand, all with their accessories and clothing lines. Its product became friends of icons such as Gianni Agnelli, Diana Spencer and Juan Carlos di Borbone.

But what make the company different are the social principles behind the business. This is a luxury re-edition of the beloved Adriano Olivetti’s concept, visible also overseas in Google practice nowadays. Diego Della Valle created a “feel as at home” workplace philosophy. As people are seen as fundamental for augmenting the intangible values and following the idea that “a happier worker is a more productive one”, inside the Casette D’Ete main factory had been built a kindergarten, a gym, free internet access, a biblioteque, a TV space and a public auditorium. Moreover workers are granted 2 hours off to have lunch with family and can also take on a free course of English.

Nowadays the numbers tell us that this model is solid, competitive and bares fairly good fruits. Almost 800 million of revenues in 2010 with an index of growth of 15% yearly, EBITDA at 17%, 110 millions of earnings, shops in Shanghai, Dubai, NY City and Paris and the recent acquisition of the precious Roger Vivier brand.

Although surrounded by a super fast and competitive world, Diego Della Valle conceived a market niche were attention to details and creativity, innovation and tradition, are bundled together. It seems to exist some sort of balance in Casette d’Ete. Hence, utopia seems not to be the only answer…Try withdignita, dovere, e divertimento” 

…UMT…

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