An Interview With Diego Della Valle: Reviving the Italian Pride

Yesterday’s interview with Mr Diego Della Valle – Tod’s tycoon – reminded me that there’s much more behind this frenzy of going international. For a girl in her 20s like me, aiming for the world is normality. Italy sometimes feels too narrow, too limiting. But, in a wave of patriotism, Mr Della Valle reminded me that I live in the most charming nation of the world. In times when trust and confidence in my marvelous country are wavering, he brought me back to the roots. And when I asked him about the main challenges for fashion and luxury in the years to come, his answer was prompt and ready: don’t loose the DNA of the “Made in Italy”.

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Borrowing Mr Della Valle words, we should stick to the Made in Italy, and try to produce there when possible. We should exploit our heritage, but how? Surrounding what we do with the Italian allure, whether it is a luxury product, a plate of Pasta or a trip to Capri. We should make the young people uncover the reality of the small artisans. We must be grateful to them if Italy has earned an outstanding reputation in the fashion world. We must leverage on Italian quality, nothing more.

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If you’re somewhat interested in the luxury and fashion market, you must know that one of the recurring questions is why Italy doesn’t have its own LVMH, that is, a giant holding of luxury brands. Mr Della Valle, who also sits on LVMH board, brought something new to the scene: “Mr Arnault – LVMH president-  is in love with what he’s doing. He’s extremely good in understanding the right product, the right strategy. He spots deals through his knowledge of finance and quality”. The fact that Italy doesn’t have his own doesn’t worry him. We’ve been more individualist, in love with our products, and we put that on top a financial group vision. But we have good brands, healthy enterprises, and we have nothing to envy to such a group reality. So far, the Italian way of doing business has guaranteed its own survival. I want to add that it’s the Italian passion that brought us there. Latin lovers, la dolce vita. Foreigners could even make fun of us, but if they are wearing Tod’s mocassins is because some Italians believed passionately in it.

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Going a bit further, I asked Mr Della Valle an opinion about digital in luxury, which is nowadays a necessity, but it’s also often viewed as a menace undermining the exclusivity of luxury. According to him, digital is an opportunity. It guarantees visibility, and the ones who should take advantage of it are those small enterprises than cannot count on a strong brand, but have a strong productive capacity.

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My interview ends year, but I think that the speech he gave in occasion to the conference about Italian enterprises and welfare in Bocconi University deserves some more attention. I want to focus on something broader than fashion this time. The strong message he gave us is that enterprises should come together for reviving Italy. He defined our architectural heritage and the beauties of our country as our own true oil. We should value it to gain international respect, and to set the economic machine in motion again. We should start from the big projects: Pompei, the “Reggia di Caserta”. Even if you’re not Italian you must have surely heard those names before, and also that they are literarily falling to pieces. Big enterprises should become aware of the fact that they can help, and even small ones can contribute: Italy is so rich that every small village owns a piece of our cultural heritage, and virtually everyone can contribute in reviving it. There are so many things to be done. Ok, Mr Della Valle is funding the restoration of the Colosseum. I’m perfectly aware that there are not many people on earth that could do that. But in a wave of Italian pride, I want to believe that everyone can be part of it and act. We must only care.

For fashion, for arts, for Italy.

Francesca Magri

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