PARIS, France — Tod's, the Italian maker of luxury comfort shoes famous for its Gommino loafers, has appointed Walter Chiapponi as creative director of its women's and men's collections. The move comes as the troubled label is trying to reverse falling sales and re-energise its brand.
"Walter Chiapponi is a talented Italian creative who knows and is able to combine Tod’s Italian lifestyle with a touch of modernity, without ever losing sight of the high quality and craftsmanship that represents the brand’s DNA,” said Diego Della Valle, president of Tod's Group, which also owns Roger Vivier and Hogan.
The group, which is controlled by Italy's Della Valle family, kicked off a brand revamp at the end of 2017. In a bid to forge relevance with millennials, which is very low (they drive less than 20 percent of sales, according to estimates), Tod’s launched its Factory initiative, an ongoing series of designer collaborations that have essentially replaced the Italian shoemaker’s seasonal fashion collections in the mould of fellow Italian brand Moncler’s Instagram friendly “Genius” strategy.
In September, Della Valle signalled signs of progress without providing specifics.
In the 2018 fiscal year, Tod’s Group reported a 26 percent drop in 2018 profit, with full-year earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) falling to €118.3 million (around $130 million) after five years of declining retail sales. Group sales fell to €454.6 million (around $504 million) in the first half of 2019, 4.7 percent below the same period in 2018.
Chiapponi replaces former Tod’s womenswear designer Alessandra Facchinetti, who left the brand in 2016, and menswear lead Andrea Incontri, who exited in June. The 41-year-old Milan-born designer studied at the European Institute of Design. His resume includes stints at Givenchy, Valentino, Gucci, Miu Miu and, most recently, Bottega Veneta under former creative director Tomas Maier.
Chiapponi's first collections for Tod's will hit stores next autumn.