An Italian style icon
We went to explore the homeland of “Gommino”, one of the iconic models of a shoe that has become a real “status symbol”. Our journey took us to Brancadoro, Italy, in Tod’s manufacturing workshops.
What is a classic shoe? How is it born? Should we discontinue making it? Or, on the contrary, must we constantly reinvent it? To find the answers to these questions, one should go to the Marches region. This corner of Italy, less glamorous and more mountainous than the Amalfi Coast, was appreciated by Stendhal for its nature devoid of the slightest plain. There, in the heart of these compressed and industrial landscapes, the iconic moccasins of the Italian house Tod’s are handmade . These ultra-flexible shoes with 133 pins (not one more or one less) called “Gommino”, are made in all colours and available in the most beautiful skins of the globe. This is also the birthplace of Diego Della Valle, owner of Tod’s and the 26th richest man in Italy, according to Forbes magazine. Filippo’s grandson and Dorino’s son, was raised surrounded by the leather samples in his father’s factory. The self-made man turned Tod’s group ( Hogan, Roger Vivier, Fay) into an empire. Today, his group is listed on the stock market, and he runs it with his younger brother Andrea.
An Italian business
Together, they acquired the prestigious Florentine football club, Fiorentina, and saved the national emblems close to their hearts: the restoration of the scene of La Scala in Milan, the renovation of the Colosseum of Rome (up to 25 million euros) , creating a theme park in Cinecittà, the “Hollywood- on-tiber” ... And as if that was not enough, the two men devote 1% of their turnover to the development of their native region. A successful bet for the self-taught visionary who had given himself a mission forty years ago when he was only twenty years old to create shoes that will be worn by all the great people of this world one day. Success! Today, Tod’s sells 2.5 million pairs of shoes a year in more than 200 outlets. Charlotte Casiraghi, George Clooney and Katie Holmes are all enthusiastic about this reinterpretation of the driving shoe, a moccasin of Portuguese origin adopted by racing drivers. It was during a stay in Manhattan, in 1970, that Diego Della Valle, a law graduate, discovered this shoe worn by fans of speed. Back in Italy, he transforms the model and designs, in the late 1970s, what will become the emblem of the brand Tod’s.
On site, in the industrial area of Brancadoro, a few minutes from the village of Casette d’ete where Diego Della Valle was born (at home), we discover three buildings that look like a museum of contemporary art. Built in the middle of olive groves, these buildings with clear lines were imagined by Barbara Pistilli, his architect wife. Nearly one thousand employees work daily on these three sites. They benefit from a canteen with local products and
Above, the famous moccasin “Gommino” from Tod’s. Right page, the fashion workshops, in Brancadoro.