diego della valle
Image courtesy of Emanuele Scorcelletti

“Style happens naturally”: Diego Della Valle, founder of Tod’s

In conversation with one of Europe’s most stylish men and most successful entrepreneurs

Diego Della Valle’s friends call him D.D.V. And my word — what friends. Royals of every stripe, film stars from every era, jet setters on every continent. They come for the exquisite leather goods — but they stay for the conversation, the food, the wine; the mingling of philosophy and fun. This is the singular trick of the enigmatic, charismatic Tod’s chairman — that he has brought Italian style into a business, and his business into a lifestyle

There is a thread of good taste, good quality and good living that runs through Della Valle’s life, projects, and brand. Though his hometown remains Casette D’Ete, the billionaire mogul has homes all over the world. He donated a small fortune to the restoration of Rome’s Colosseum in 2013. Alongside duty, he believes that one of the most important thing in life is fun. His outlook is Italian but international; progressive but classical; sincere but playful. And you can see it in everything from his trademark look — a silk scarf tied around an upturned shirt collar — to a single pair of Tod’s shoes, plucked at random from the shelf. Here, the entrepreneur discusses the smell of leather, the importance of tradition, and the influence of the Beatles.

diego della valle
Image courtesy of Leonardo Rinaldesi

One of my earliest memories as a boy was accompanying my father to our leather warehouses. He and his collaborators checked the quality of the leathers, studying them in detail, and feeling them to see if the product was of the super high quality they wanted. These actions and the smell of the skin are unforgettable for me.

Many people have left their mark on me. I would say my father is the person who taught me the most. He taught me to follow a life based on values and loyalty, with a very strong sense of solidarity with others. Other people who are important as an influence and hope for the future include Gandhi, Mandela and JFK. Each had different characteristics, but what connects them is the ability to make young people dream. I would also say — if we want to look at the lighter aspect of a young man’s life — the Beatles have been a very strong influence on me.

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