One of the leading players in the global luxury sector, Tod’s has shown great skill in combining artisanal traditions with advanced technology and is developing at an impressive rate. The undisputed No.1 for footwear and driving shoes, Tod’s also produces high-end clothing and accessories

Diego Della Valle

Diego Della Valle

If life is a journey to be walked on foot, as Bruce Chatwin wrote, it is surely best to opt for an ultra-light, flat, soft moccasin, with a sole featuring 133 tiny rubber dots. A Tod’s moccasin, to be precise: the perfect expression of the philosophy of walking. The Gommino, which is known the world over and has become a cult item, is the building block upon which Diego Della Valle has formed the Tod’s empire. It also earned him the nickname der Kaiser von Mokassinen in Germany. In our collective imagination, the iconic Gommini remind us of the travels of Jack Kerouac and the elegance of John Fitzgerald Kennedy.

And it was in the USA, at the end of the 1970s, that Della Valle happened across a lightweight driving shoe among the dusty collections of antiques in an emporium in the East End of Manhattan. Using that shoe as his inspiration, the entrepreneur from the Marche region of Italy blazed his own trail of elegance and class, in which the combination of quality, creativity, tradition and modernity was underpinned and complemented by an unerring commitment to the principle of handmade production.

The Tod’s Gommino was created in 1986, the result of over 100 production phases: from the hand-cutting of the leather, which is sourced from the best tanneries in the world, to the stitching of each individual component of every shoe. It didn’t take long before the Gommino could be seen on the feet of Giovanni Agnelli and Juan Carlos I of Spain. Then came the stars of Hollywood: Julia Roberts and Brad Pitt, Cate Blanchett and George Clooney. As such, Diego Della Valle was able to transform the small shoemakers founded in Cassette d’Ete (Fermo) in the early 1900s by his grandfather Filippo and kept up by his father Dorino into the No.1 for driving shoes and one of the crown jewels of the global luxury industry, capable of competing with brands of the calibre of Hermès, Louis Vuitton and Gucci. Today, Tod’s is an organisation expanding rapidly.

Listed on the Milan stock exchange since 2000, it ended 2015 with revenue of €1.037bn and growth of 7.4%. The main brand, which accounts for 57% of revenue, has been joined over the shoes by footwear names Hogan and Roger Vivier and clothing brand Fay, all of which flawlessly complement each other at the high end of the market.

«Our future objectives include the continuation of our current investment plan, along with further research into new products and the increasing expansion of our direct distribution network on the international sphere», declares Diego Della Valle, President and CEO of the Tod’s group, which boasts 257 boutiques in the most prestigious luxury shopping streets in the world along with 98 franchise stores, 4550 employees, six footwear production facilities and two leather factories. The group is based in Brancadoro in Casette d’Ete, an 85,000 m2 space featuring the main building, green spaces, areas for offices plus technical laboratories and artisanal workshops for designing and manufacturing the products.

The building is not just a place of work, but also a forum for conferences and exhibitions, while there is also a restaurant, a gym and childcare for the children of employees, features that perfectly reflect the company’s philosophy of syncing artisanal traditions and cutting-edge technology. «It’s a unique work environment», explains Della Valle. «I wanted to allow my collaborators to work in a place like no other, one that might repay them for their hard work and dedication to our company. This way, the care we invest in what we produce and the quality of our products can only improve». These are shoes, but at the same time they are art, a contemporary look, a feeling.