You’ve turned your grandfather’s small shoemaking family business into the now famous Tod’s, a global leather empire; making Italy extremely proud. How do you feel about your tremendous success?
Diego Della Valle: I am very proud, the dream I have always had has just become true. When I started my ﬁrst dream and idea have always been to do luxury products with impeccable taste and enviable quality. We all made it remaining loyal to our philosophy: top quality leathers coming from the best tanneries around the world, handmade ﬁnishing and the constant care about the needs of our clients developing products that are contemporary, but always with a made-in-Italy feeling, which reﬂects our brand’s roots and tradition. Tod’s is not a fashion brand, but a timeless luxury brand.
Tell us about Tod’s modern outlook from the past when nobody thought it was chic to wear driving shoes in 1978.
Back then, you are right, it was difficult to believe that you could have worn a Gommino with a pair of jeans as well as with a suit but it was really the way we have worked around the Gommino. A timeless iconic shoe and not a fashion phenomenon.
In the late 1970s, did you predict that your envisaged ‘rubber-sole’ Gommino would become such an iconic style emblem of Tod’s?
As said I had that dream and we have all worked hard to make it becoming the iconic emblem which is still today. The idea came to my mind during a brief working experience in the US where I decided to develop the idea of a driving shoe that could be worn in a professional, elegant or casual environment. Remaining loyal to our philosophy, which has always been and will always be to pursue reﬁned, understated luxury, impeccable taste and excellent quality, has created the loyalty amongst our fans, Good taste, excellence and a sense of style, are always the principles that give birth to every collection, along with the needs of the consumer, which are crucial.
Arabs have close-knit families, alike Italians. How has this familial value play a role to make Tod’s the brand it is today?
Crucial. Tod’s is a family company and this feeling has been translated into our company as well. Our employees are very loyal and they play an important role inside the company, if they feel good this all reﬂects on how the work. For example our headquarters in Le Marche have been developed thinking of them all, with spaces dedicated not only to their job, but also thinking to the health of our employees and their families.
Do you feel that Tod’s is re-educating the younger generation to wear comfortable stylish footwear, such as through the recent fun collaboration with fashion icon Anna Dello Russo in Tod’s circus collection?
I would not talk about re-educating, we are playing a bit with our iconic pieces, and it is to show them that Tod’s can be timeless, it is not fashion but it is indeed very actual.
In your opinion, how has footwear trends evolved since 1970s?
Those that are timeless as Tod’s are still the same in the research of the materials, the handcraft and the deep research of the details. The others are fashion shoes that follow seasonal trends.
What is your 2018 game plan for Tod’s?
We are opening at The Dubai Mall’s luxury extension, we have new openings going on and we work a lot on special collections to hit the stores on a monthly basis. We did the tattoo collection few months ago, after we had the My Gommino, then the Sella bag and now the Circus collection.
Being an active patriot and a billionaire businessman on the boards of Ferrari, Maserati, LVMH and Banca Nazionale del Lavoro S.p.A. (BNL), as well as a shareholder in RCS MediaGroup, you’ve also contributed to the philanthropic renovation of the Roman Colosseum and own Italian soccer team ACF Fiorentina. These are just some of your impressive achievements and incredible contributions, the list goes on! Is there anything you cannot do, or have not achieved?
I am very happy with what have, sometimes I would only need more time for my family and friends, but I cannot ask for more.
Thinking along the lines of retro-futurism, do you feel that Tod’s created the ‘future of driving shoes’ in 1978 (a far-fetched visionary thought then), or have brought the Gommino iconic pair back to our present times in 2017? (i.e. reinventing the past).
I think it is the perfect balance between the two aspects. Our Gommino was and still is a timeless iconic piece.