Its been one year since the once-hot Diesel hit the reboot button. BoF spoke exclusively with the companys new chief executive Alessandro Bogliolo, along with Diesel founder Renzo Rosso, artistic director Nicola Formichetti and creative director of Diesel Black Gold, Andreas Melbostad, for an inside look at how the company is re-energising the brand.
BREGANZE, Italy Diesel, after so many years, was tired, sighed Renzo Rosso, the companys 59-year-old founder, sitting in his art-strewn office on the top floor of the companys modern, campus-like headquarters, equipped with everything from a helipad to a nursery, set amidst the greenery of the Italian countryside about an hour outside of Venice. We are a good company, but the brand had started to suffer, continued Rosso, whose greying curls and tattoos gave him the appearance of a retired rock star.
Its a much wider concept than people may have perceived. Its really the reboot of the entire brand.
For more than two decades, sales of Diesel which Rosso founded in 1978 and grew from a denim specialist into a multi-billion dollar lifestyle giant, selling everything from fragrance to furniture enjoyed strong double-digit growth, driven largely by the success of its premium denim offering and irreverent, controversial marketing. In the late 1990s, Diesel jeans, with their signature red pocket flags, were a must-have. But a couple of years into the new millennium, Diesel started to stagnate. The brand lost its aura of cool and growth fell into the single digits.
Long before the words contemporary and advanced contemporary entered the fashion lexicon, Diesel helped to pioneer the space between mass market apparel and high fashion brands. But in the intervening years, the arrival of sophisticated new labels like Rag & Bone, 3.1 Phillip Lim and Alexander Wang eroded Diesels premium positioning. At the same time, Diesels dominance in denim came under attack from both fast-fashion retailers offering mass-produced denim at very low prices and a wide range of rising premium denim specialists, like Acne, Nudie and J Brand.
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