Diego Della Valle hopes that women judge men by the kind of shoes they wear. As the founder of J. P. Tod's, the Italian shoe company which has gained a big following among Hollywood celebrities, it is no wonder he thinks that way. Stars such as Harrison Ford, Sean Connery, Denzel Washington and Mel Gibson have all been spotted sporting J. P. Tod's trademark rubber-studded heels and soles. And female stars such as Sharon Stone just cannot seem to get enough of J. P. Tod's handbags which have a long waiting list around the world. But it is the shoe business which is in Diego's blood. His grandfather founded the firm 80 years ago, his father worked in the business and, under Diego's leadership, J. P. Tod's became the largest shoemaker in Italy, achieving an annual turnover of about 320 billion lire (HK$1.3 billion). Based in the Marches region of Italy, J. P. Tod's originally designed its shoes as casual driving moccasins, with the rubber-studs designed to grip the pedals of the car. Although the designs have evolved to include more than 150 styles, Diego says their manufacture still involves the original processes, with each pair cut and sewn by hand. The label's handbags use a manufacturing process similar to those used by saddlemakers, with the leather sourced from an old German tannery. It is no surprise to discover that Diego has 150 pairs of shoes in his own wardrobe. 'I test our shoes all the time . . . you can never have enough elegant shoes in your closet,' he said. If women judged Diego, he would surely come up trumps.