Christian Louboutin, French shoe designer, was born in Paris 1964. His iconic element is the high-end stiletto, with the red sole. At the age of 12 his true fascination with shoes began when he visited the Musée National des Arts d’Afrique et d’Océanie, where he saw a sign forbidding women wearing sharp stilettos from entering a building, for fear of damage to the wood flooring. This image inspired his work.
Christian expresses, “I wanted to create something that broke rules and made women feel confident and empowered.”
He studied drawing and decorative arts at the Académie d’Art Roederer. In his teens he left for Egypt, and spent a year in India. After this he came back to Paris in 1981. He created a portfolio full of his extravagant high heel drawings and sent it to the top fashion houses. This was a success, and he was hired by Charles Jourdan, one of the most respected shoemakers in Paris. Through his work with Jourdan, he met Roger Vivier, who claimed to have invented the stiletto, and they started a long and meaningful collaboration. Also, he freelanced for Chanel and Yves Saint Laurent.
In the late 80’s he left fashion, became a landscape gardener, and contributed to Vogue Paris. This only lasted a few years before he started to miss working with shoes, and decided to launch his company in 1991. His first collection was presented in 1991, then in 1992 he opened a boutique on Rue Rousseau in Paris. Princess Caroline of Monaco was his first customer. She complemented the store when a journalist was present and he published her comments, which helped Louboutin gain recognition. After this, clients such as Diane Von Furstenberg, Madonna, Nicole Kidman, Cher, and Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy soon followed.
The Louboutin signature is the red sole, first created in 1993. He claimed he was trying to liven up the design of his shoes, when he “spontaneously grabbed his assistants red nail polish and started painting the sole red.” He exclaimed, “I instantly knew that it would be a success.” Through the 90’s and 2000’s Louboutin brought back the popularity of the stiletto, and in 1998 he received the Fashion Footwear Association of New York Award for the best shoe designer of the year.
In 2003 he extended outside of shoes and launched his first collection of handbags. Then, in 2011 he launched his first men’s line.
Since the brand’s launch, Christian Louboutin’s creations have been immortalized in museums, on fashion week runways, red carpets, and in pop culture around the world. A woman’s natural beauty has always been at the center of the designer’s inspiration. 2014 welcomed the launch of Christian Louboutin Beauté with its first nail polish, Rouge Louboutin, accompanied by a full range of Noirs, Nudes and Pop colors. The brand’s highly anticipated ‘second chapter’ of beauty, lipstick, launched in September 2015, followed by three signature Christian Louboutin fragrances in September 2016 and a striking collection of eye amplifiers, Les Yeux Noirs, in March 2017.
With a prolific collection of women’s and men’s shoes, day and evening handbags, and small leather goods Christian Louboutin now counts more than one hundred boutiques around the world. Also, there are several locations dedicated to men’s and a one-of-a-kind beauty boutique located in the heart of Paris’ 1st arrondisment, just two doors away from 19 Jean-Jacques Rousseau.
The origins of Tod’s dates back to the turn of the twentieth century, when Filippo Della Valle, Diego’s grandfather, founded a small shoe manufacturer.
“My family has always had leather as a ruling force,” recalls the current chairman, Diego Dalla Valle. “My grandfather Filippo was a shoemaker, who worked in his kitchen at home, at first helped by my grandmother and then by the six children as they grew up. Twice a week my dad (Dorino), who was in charge of production, and uncle Pasquale, in charge of marketing, would travel by night on bicycles, or in freight trains, to save money, to Pescara, Forlì and Bologna, to sell our products to wholesalers who serviced the market stalls.”
In 1920 Tod’s started from a leather an at home shoe making workshop, founded by Fillippo Della Valle in Sant’Elipidio, Marche, Central Italy. Later, in the 1940s, Dorino Della Valle, took over the company after Fillippo’s death, and slowly started to grow this small shoe-making factory. He took on greater responsibilities within the structure of the footwear manufacturer that was producing, at the time, only women’s shoes.
At the end of the 1960s, Dorino Della Valle completed business on his own, with the help of his wife. Diego Della Valle, the son of Dorino Della Valle exclaims,
“my mother, Maria Micucci would stitch together soles and uppers, letting me sleep in the baskets of shoes to keep an eye on me.”
Diego Della Valle Enters the Company
Dorino expanded the company into the US successfully, and started to sell his shoes in major department store in US. Diego began working for the company in the 1970s, after an attempt at university studies. He took just four exams in two years, in the department of law.
“In effect, the lack of a desire to study has always been a family disease. So I went back home and started working with my father.”
Through the 1970s Diego Della Valle expanded Fillippo’s workshop into a wider impact to the whole industry. Then, in 1979, Diego Della Valle became President of Tod’s. Also at this time, the vice president was his brother, Andrea Della Valle.
Renamed to Tod’s S.p.A.
In 1986 Diego Della Valle became the sole administrator of the company, which in the meanwhile had been renamed Tod’s S.p.A. New concepts in terms of product lines, marketing plans, and corporate strategy transformed the family workshop into one of the leading players in the production and marketing of luxury footwear and leather goods.
Later, the brands Hogan and Fay were introduced into the Tod’s Group in the 1980s.
Hogan stood out for its high design content. The basic model, inspired by English cricket shoes from the 1930s, was made with a double overlapping upper in order to make the shoe more durable. With a foam rubber padding of the edges and the insole, and a sole with an undulating design to ensure maximum flexibility. Initially focused on the production of footwear for women, men, and children, Hogan recently diversified into leather goods.
Founded by the Tod’s Group in the late 1970s, the Fay brand was originally born in the United States, specializing in the production of robust corduroy cotton and nylon fishnet jackets jackets closed by four hooks inspired by American fire-fighters. Today the brand features male and female lines, complete with accessories, and a kids line. Fay is characterized by the distinctive Double Life philosophy. In each Fay collection, the garments are designed to address different business and business opportunities. Also, Leisure is for the city or the most dynamic outdoor contexts. The “Fay Code” is today synonymous with informal, sophisticated, cosmopolitan and versatile elegance. The expression of an Italian taste that, inspired by an international breath, combines quality, luxury and research in a timeless balance between tapestry and innovation.
In the 90s Fay joined the eloquent quality of Made in Italy and the style of tradition. The brand evolved into a cosmopolitan taste that moves its footsteps from tailoring to anticipate new urban scale trends worldwide, listening attentively to a constantly moving audience.
Excellence in quality is an absolute must for the entire group. This is guaranteed by the high proportion of craftsmanship in the manufacturing process and a strict control of the raw materials and all the phases of the production process. Tod’s shoe manufacturing requires more than 100 working phases, from handmade leather to sewing of individual components of each model. A shoe can be made up of 35 pieces of leather, each of which is treated and manually checked before being assembled.
The entire process involves several skilled craftsmen in carrying out a precise task. The skins come from the best tanners in the world and, like fine wine, some pieces have to wait years to reach the right color and consistency point. Every single piece is checked by the experts to evaluate their color, strength and thickness to achieve a perfect homogeneity, otherwise it is discarded. Once the finished product is reached, every pair of shoes is carefully examined and the defective models are eliminated.
The same procedure is followed in the realization of the bags, which stand out for a craftsmanship similar to the old procedures used for saddlery.
Production is primarily carried out in 9 fully owned plants, 7 for footwear, and 2 for leather goods. Also, a part is outsourced to a few specialized workshops, which the company has established stable and long-lasting working relationships. Diego Della Valle has always rejected espansionist policies by acquiring some luxury players.
“I do not see the advantages of a pole. Each brand has its own research and product offices, advertising campaigns are autonomous, as well as mono-brand stores. In short, synergies are limited to production and logistics. With the risk that buyers do not have organizational structures and managers to devote to what they have bought, they eventually do not control anything anymore.”
The Gommino Loafer
The “gommino” was born in the late 1970s. Diego Della Valle had noticed that they needed footwear ideal for casual chic occasions where a classical Italian prefer to wear a pair of chinos and a blazer and began working on this 50s prototype. The loafer if lightweight, flat, entirely hand-sewn, with rubber balls on the sole, so it simply called “rubbery” and worked. This featured an unusual sole that had 133 little raised rubber circles. In order to make one pair of loafers required 100 manufacturing steps, many of which involved hand labor. The strong point of the Tod’s line was also the selection of fine American leathers and British hides, all rigorously water-repellent and produced by quality, small-scale tanneries.was created with the intention of combining classic Italian style with the functionality of a versatile shoe that can be worn on any occasion.
The loftier has become international famous and worn by movie stars such as Michael Douglas, Catherine Deneuve, Denzel Washington, Antonio Banderas, Gwyneth Paltrow, Samuel Jackson, Orlando Bloom, George Clooney, Claudia Schiffer, and Cindy Crawford.
In 1997 the company launched a collection of classic, modern and chic handbags, able to reflect the same spirit of the footwear line. The most famous was the D Bag, bought by Princess Diana in the Paris boutique, demonstrating the company’s elegant style.
Turnover and Investments in the Early 2000s
By 2000, Tod’s debuted in the electronic market of the Milan Stock Exchange. In 2001, the rise in economic indicators was still in double figures. Turnover increased by 26.6%, while the EBITDA, registered a leap upward of 31.5%.
In 2002, a year of crisis for the luxury sector, the manufacturer had a repeat year. Net revenues amounted to €358.2 million, a 12.5% increase, the EBITDA was €91.8 million, a 13.9% increase. That same year, investments in non-physical immobilization of capital, amounted to €28.6 million, due to the expansion of the network of direct distribution and sales, which grew by another 21 new shops. The capital locked up in material investments amounted to €15.8 million, of which 38% was allocated for the construction of a new manufacturing plant adjoining the headquarters of Sant’Elpidio a Mare. All the investments were self-financed, given that the financial situation was in the black to the tune of €46.7 million.
Enter into BNL
The label Tod’s, accounted for 57.2% of total sales, continues to bring in the lion’s share. During the same period, the company acquired 4.6% of Italy’s Banca Nazionale del Lavoro, so that Della Valle is now the third-largest shareholder, after the Basque group BBVA and Le Generali. Tod’s CEO, Diego exclaims,
“The objectives of this investment is to help, along with the other primary partners, to reinforce the stability of the bank. I am an industrialist, not a financier. I decided to buy into BNL on the basis of an industrial project, and I am in for the long term.”
At the end of 2002, the distribution network included 71 directly operated sales outlets, and 37 franchised stores.
In 2003 revenues and the gross operating margin of the first quarter of Tod’s SpA have increased, at constant rates of exchange, compared with the same period in 2002, by 3% and 17%, respectively. The label Tod’s, accounted for 57.2% of the total sales.
Expansion and Collaboration
In 2006, the comoany entered a collaboration with Marcolin Group to produce sunglasses collection. This year, they started to develop their market in China, and opened the first flagship store in Hong Kong. Until 2009, Tod’s has opened 13 boutiques in China.
Later, in 2011 Tod’s funded the renovation of the Colosseum.
That same year, the company began supporting the Teatro alla Scala in Milan, entering the Theater Foundation. The result of this valuable collaboration is the short “An Italian Dream”.
A year later, in 2012, the leather goods, and accessories of Tod’s became available on Mr. Porter.
2013 the company replaced creative director, Derek Lam, with Alessandra Facchinetti, who made an impressive debut in the 2014 spring summer collection, until her stepping down in 2016. Then, in 2014. Andrea Incontri appointed creative director of men’s wear of Tod’s. Dot’s of Life launched- a modern platform that encouraged people to share their lifestyle on social media through the brand, utilizing a key modern platform.
Tod’s Acquires Roger Vivier
In 2015 Tod’s partnered with Net-a-Porter.com, after their trial launch a year before, to sell their ‘ready-to-wear’ brand of accessories online. At this year, Tod’s SpA acquired Roger Vivier, a French luxury women’s shoe brand. A year later, in 2016 the brand revenue registered €419.4 million in sales in the first nine months of 2016.
Currently, the company’s headquarters still remains at Sant’Elipidio Marche, Central Italy, where Fillippo first started his small home-based workshop nearly 100 years ago. The rapid development of recent years has allowed the Tod’s Group to reach €1.004 million in turnover at December 31, 2016 and reach a number of employees that exceed about 5,000 employees.
As of December 31, 2016, the Group’s distribution network consisted of 272 DOS and 107 franchise stores, compared to 257 DOS and 99 franchise stores at 31 December 2015. Future objectives include the continuation of the investment plan under way, with continued research into new products and a growing international expansion of the direct distribution network.
Throughout Tod’s 90 years alive, they’ve been seeking perfection. Their legacy is intertwined with innovative thoughts and represented in an unprecedented approach. Tod’s everlasting mission is to understand and to pave the way to greatness, asserting the notion that with each step, perfection is possible.
English brand of shoes that is a recognized leader in the men’s handmade luxury footwear industry. Known for high-quality shoes with modern style and elegance. Representing the English artisan-made shoe all over the world.
The brand dates back to 1675, when the company founder’s great-grandfather, Stone Church, was born in Northampton. A town known for a successful leather and footwear industry since Cromwellian times. The shoemaking skills were passed down generation to generation to Stone’s great grandson, Thomas Church. In 1873 the brand Church’s was created by the brothers Thomas, Alfred, and William Church.
Church’s began exporting outside of Europe to the United States, Canada and South America, and received the prestigious Queen’s Award for Exports from Queen Elizabeth II in 1965.
There are 250 production steps for each pair and the process takes 8 weeks. The firm’s headquarters is in Northampton, the town which provided the boots for Cromwell’s army in the Irish War. It also provided 70% of the shoes worn by the British soldiers fighting in the trenches along the Marne in the massacre of World War I.
The Goodyear Model
The shoe factory, besides producing the classic leather shoe, first invented the technique to combine the preciousness of the most valuable and futuristic rubber comfort used for soles. That is how the Goodyear model was born, a lace-up leather shoe with para rubber. The first exports were made in 1887. The début in America came in 1907.
In 1998 the turnover was 240 billion liras. At this point, the griffe is still guided by the family’s descendants, even if they no longer control the majority of shares. In Summer 1999 Diego Della Valle, “Mr. Tod’s,” bought up 8.6% of the shares. Patrizio Bertelli of Prada bought 9% and, at the end of August, launched a friendly takeover bid to acquire control, offering a 20% premium over the share price, of the Stock Exchange’s price, worth about 310 billion liras.
Prada Acquires Church’s
Later in 1999, Church’s is taken over by Prada Holding, a Dutch company at the head of Gruppo Internazionale, which is among the world leaders in luxury design. The acquisition occurs with the explicit intent of “optimizing” the business opportunities of the brand, with full respect for its English identity. The main strategic plan foresees the rationalization of production criteria and the introduction of marketing logic in the planning of collections and new products. This is to allow a further expansion of production capacity and the development of a collection that includes classic categories as well as more contemporary offerings connected to the seasons.
A New Chapter
In January 2002, a second single-brand boutique in Milan, after the one on via Sant’Andrea, is opened in September 2000. The 600 square foot shop in Galleria Vittorio Emanuele is on two floors (shop and warehouse), with walls in teak and wengé floors. It was designed by Roberto Baciocchi.
During this year, the Church’s Group turnover amounts to €61.2 million, with a return to operating profitability and expected further growth in 2003. At this point, there are 48 single-brand points-of-sale, of which 47 are privately owned and 1 is a franchise. The brand is available in 895 multi-brand shops. The group employees a total of 700 people all over the world, with a production centered 95% in England and 5% in Italy for the women’s Collection. The expansion policies of the brand have involved the retail channel and the opening of new single-brand shops in the most important international capitals. The new boutiques are in Milan, in 2001; Paris, on Rue Saint-Honoré; Rome, on via Condotti; St. Moritz, on Palace Arcade, in 2002; and New York, on Madison Avenue, in 2003.
A year later in 2003, an agreement is signed between Prada Group and Equinox. An important private equity investment company to support an ambitious worldwide expansion plan. This plan is based on the development of new and complementary categories of merchandise. An important part of the agreement is the complete autonomy of the Prada Group in design decisions and in the strategy concerning the identity of the brand. According to the agreement, Equinox acquired 45% of the capital of the Church’s Group. Then, later in December 2006, Prada acquired 100% capital of Church’s.
In 2008 the brand started a new development plan to begin opening more international stores. Including Venice, Bologna, Leeds, Edinburgh, Hong Kong and Singapore.
In 26 July 2011 church’s opened the first store dedicated to the women’s collection in the heart of London’s shopping district, New Bond Street.
Currently, there are 200 single-brand boutiques all over the world. The number of employees is about 2,000.