Diego Della Valle Enthuses Over China Recovery, Digital Tools

MILAN — “This is an extraordinary moment of change, which will divide two eras: it’s a Chinese Wall, as they say in finance,” said Diego Della Valle on Friday morning, during a preview appointment to see the Tod’s spring collection.

The lineup by Walter Chiapponi was to be presented later in the afternoon through a digital presentation and this led the company’s chairman and chief executive officer to discuss the advantages of technology for Italian companies and in particular young designers and small brands. This at a moment when tech-savvy China is being hailed as a leading market to help the luxury industry out of the doldrums.

“China’s performance is extraordinary, we are seeing high double-digit growth,” enthused Della Valle at Tod’s Milan headquarters. “Korea and Japan are recovering, so let’s hope that one region at a time there will be a general recovery.”

The company is seeing new customers in Asia, with “excellent results, which bodes well for the future,” the entrepreneur continued.

As reported, sales at the Tod’s group in the first half fell 43.5 percent to 256.9 million euros, impacted by the lockdown enforced practically worldwide, but Della Valle is relying on a loyal customer base and the fundamentals of its brands, focusing on the development of its digital tools.

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Della Valle believes half of his and his peers’ time in the future will be dedicated to becoming “movie producers” to communicate the values of their brands. And Italian companies, with their craftsmanship and heritage, will benefit from all this storytelling.

“Nothing can replace a physical show, but there are enormous advantages for young designers and small companies that risk being wiped away at this moment, without big budgets, and these videos can reach millions of people around the world,” he observed. “We need to blend reality and virtual.” And “journalists have a more central role now” in scouting brands, telling their stories and educating, he contended.

Della Valle stands by Tod’s strategy to deliver drops and capsules on a monthly basis, a business model he unveiled in 2018. Collections will be smaller, which is more sustainable — although he stressed that sustainability for him also means improving human relations and helping employees, which he has done over the years with several initiatives.

He was also in favor of aligning clothes in stores to the season. “I never understood this rush to have products earlier and earlier in stores. It was mainly a response to the demand of U.S. department stores and it was a vicious circle, but that phase is over.”

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