Tod’s new Signature Collection on display in Shanghai
As China continues on its path to become the world’s largest consumer of luxury goods (they surpassed Japan last year for the number two spot), the focus of most luxury brands has moved from West to East. Last week I was invited to Shanghai by Italian brand Tod’s who was celebrating two milestones – the launch of their new film Red Touch, Dancing a Dream as well as the worldwide debut of its latest line, the Signature Collection.
It was interesting on many levels. While most luxury events in China are predominantly branding and sales exercises aimed at raising their profile among the Chinese, this was different in that it was an international launch aimed at a global audience – not just exclusively for Asia or inspired by Asia. It proves how the mainland is now evolving from a cash cow to a bonafide launch pad for brands to showcase their latest ideas and collections to the rest of the world. How far we have come…
Which brings me back to Tod’s. President and CEO Diego Della Valle said he chose Shanghai because “it’s part of the world where people know logos, and want something balanced with quality and taste. Personally I feel there are many similarities between Asians and the Italian way of life – they have the same sense of taste, they like to have the best. The young generation especially want to buy the best.”
The collection is definitely designed with the young generation in mind although it is billed as classics for the future. It features a range of bags and small leather goods made using an exclusive technique in which the leather is imprinted with geometric shapes and pebbles taken from the brand’s signature gommino pattern. The result is a quilted 3D effect that is fun, playful, and according to Della Valle, “not easy to copy.”
The products are designed to be versatile and suit the lifestyle of a stylish woman-on-the-go – hence the ipad case, cosmetic case, clutch and shopping bag, the latter of which was my favourite. The collection we viewed in Shanghai came in a range of playful candy colours such as electric blue, green and fuchsia on patent leather, although there are plans to add other colours and fabrics later on. It will be interesting to see how the line develops as its the first time that the brand has created something with an identifiable logo, so to speak.
A selection of products from the Signature Collection
“It’s an incredible product that we’ve been working on for many years. We needed to have a logo idea with a luxury sense of quality. So we came up with a recognisable piece of leather which has an artisan feeling combined with modern technology and Tod’s DNA. It’s a strong product that will remain ours. With a recognisable products sometimes it’s too commercial or obvious but this 100 per cent luxury. It’s our technology, but at the same time it’s romantic,” said Della Valle.
While the line was previewed for one night only in Shanghai, the rest of the world will be able to see and buy it after September when it will be launched at Milan Fashion Week. Della Valle also mentioned that the brand was looking to secure an international celebrity as the face of the new collection but remained tight lipped on further details.
Hand in hand with the launch was the debut of film, Red Touch, Dancing a Dream, directed by Marc Gentile and starring renowned Chinese ballerina Honglan Hou. It’s the second film the brand has launched on the mainland (the first, The Italian Touch, was shown in Beijing last year) and depicts the East-meets-West story of two young girls who dream in different ways of fulfilling lifetime ambitions. The craft of shoemaking and ballet both play a central role and are causes close to the brand and part of their mission to promote culture around the world (scroll down to watch the film or visit www.tods.com to watch it as well as the “making of” video).
“We also wanted to do something that was not commercial, that’s completely out of the business,” said Della Valle. ”It’s a sign of the long term relationship between us and our Asian friends. It’s about luxury dreams for the young generation but also a reminder not to forget the roots, your life and your family values. Dreams are the gasoline of life, especially when you are young. It moves your sense of life.”
Speaking about his long term plans in China, Della Valle asserted that his strategy is to keep his distribution small and exclusive.
“In Asia our business is very good, but everyone is growing in Asia. We want to do it in the right way with not too many shops. We don’t want to have shops that are like department stores, we want to have unique boutiques. It’s important not to forget that Asian people love the idea of exclusivity and want to have a very human touch in their shops. We want to guarantee this every time,” he says.