Diesel S.p.A. is an Italian retail clothing company, located in Breganze, Italy. It sells denim, and other clothing, footwear, and accessories. The clothing line has two different brands: Diesel and Diesel Black Gold. There is also a line for children, called Diesel Kid. The company is known for its surreal advertising campaigns.
The Diesel branded luxury fragrance line is owned and produced by L'Oréal.
Diesel USA filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in March 2019. Its parent company, Diesel SpA, is not part of the bankruptcy filing.
HistoryDiesel founder Renzo Rosso began stitching jeans on a sewing machine at the age of fifteen. He used his mother’s sewing machine to produce low-riding, bell bottomed jeans, which he would wear himself and sell to his friends for 3500 lira a piece. He later attended an industrial textile manufacturing high school in Padua.
In 1976 Rosso began working for a clothing manufacturer called Moltex, which was owned by Adriano Goldschmied. After working with the company for two years, he used a loan from his father to buy a 40% holding in the company, which changed its name to Diesel, and marketed jeans under the Diesel brand and many others. Rosso bought out Goldschmied's interest in the Diesel brand name in 1985 for US$500,000, becoming the sole owner of the company. Rosso has said that he learned marketing from the US, creativity from Italy, and systems from Germany.
In 1990 Russ Togs, Inc. received the license to market and distribute Diesel lines in the United States and Mexico. Mitsubishi Co. received the license to market and distribute in Japan. By 1991, Russ Togs was going out of business, and sold Diesel Sportswear to Rosso upon ending the licensing deal. As a result of Russ Togs collapse, the creation of made in the USA Diesel products never came to fruition, and Diesel instead placed its made-in-Italy jeans and clothing in US stores.
In 1992, Diesel became the title sponsor for the World Superbike racing circuit. In 1995, Diesel launched one of the first significant fashion retail websites, which housed images of each of its collections. The first Diesel jeans to be sold online were available in Finland and Sweden starting in 1997. It then opened a virtual store that allowed home delivery for further markets the following year.
In 1999, Diesel opened large flagship stores in New York City, San Francisco, Rome, and London, and began to open other mono-brand stores for Diesel in order to augment its points of sale in department and other multi-brand retails stores. Further flagship stores opened, including stores in Berlin, Barcelona, and Paris. Diesel also produces illustrated catalogs for its retail lines. The company also won the Premio Risultati award for Best Italian Company of the Year from the Bocconi Institute in 1996. In 1998 The Wall Street Journal called Diesel “the label of the moment”.
Diesel founder Rosso began purchasing additional fashion companies in 2002, under the parent company Only The Brave, which Diesel was brought under as well. Companies purchased by Only the Brave included Maison Martin Margiela, Viktor & Rolf, Marni, and licensing company Staff International. In 2005 Diesel released the book “Fifty” upon Rosso’s fiftieth birthday, an illustrated history of the company, with a print-run of ten thousand.
Diesel's denim's products are produced exclusively in Italy, with many of its products produced by out-sourced factories. Its headquarters are in Breganze, on the former Moto Laverda factory area, and had twelve international subsidiaries as of 2005. As of 2008, the company had five thousand points of sale across eighty countries, with 270 mono-brand Diesel stores. Diesel itself owns 170 of those, with the rest owned by franchisees. Turnover was over €1.3 billion in 2009, and by 2010 the company had over 400 stores. In 2012 Diesel founder Rosso was listed on the Forbes list of billionaires for the first time. In 2015 the company held the exhibition Welcome to Diesel World in Shanghai, which provided an overview of the company’s history, in conjunction with its collection debut. Another exhibition was held in Tel Aviv to mark the company’s twentieth year in Israel.
Fashion linesWhile the most popular Diesel apparel item has been denim wear, the company has expanded to include additional forms of clothing. The company has created leather jackets, women’s dresses, and other items. In 1998, Diesel founded an offshoot label called Diesel StyleLab, which produced higher end fashion designs beyond more traditional denim jeans. In the 2000s, the company began to license its brand to other retail manufacturers, in order to create new product categories. These lines included the sunglasses line Diesel Eyewear in partnership with Marcolin, the jewels and watches line Diesel Watches in partnership with Fossil, the fragrance line in partnership with L'Oréal. The production of each line involves supervision from Diesel itself. Diesel has also partnered with Moroso, Seletti, Scavolini, Foscarini, and Berti to create a home furnishings line called Diesel Living, with Bugaboo to create strollers, with AVG to create helmets, with Ducati, and with Fiat to create a limited edition Fiat 500. Diesel also produces limited edition lines of jeans.
As of 2003, according to Women’s Wear Daily, Diesel had three distinct fashion lines, “Diesel Style Lab, the most pricey fashion-forward designer label; Diesel, a fashion brand that still focuses heavily on denim, and 55DSL, the board sport-inspired streetwear line that blends fashion and function.” Style Lab and 55DSL are now defunct. Currently there are two lines at Diesel: Diesel and Diesel Black Gold. Diesel Black Gold is the luxury ready-to-wear line and was launched in 2008 during the New York Fashion Week. That year the company also partnered with Adidas to co-produce a sport denim line. In 2013 Diesel underwent a re-branding effort, reorganizing both the business structure and marketing methodologies.
AdvertisingStarting in 1991, Diesel has been known for producing ads that invoke surreal images in lieu of direct product details, in partnership with Swedish ad agency Paradiset DDB, Stockholm. These included 1997 ads portraying life in Communist North Korea. Another ad campaign imitated automobile crashes. Campaigns have also used social consciousness as a theme, ironic plays on global issues, as well as anti-establishment messages. Michael Chevalier has critiqued the retail stores, stating that he believes that the stores's merchandise is presented in a confusing way in order to get customers to interact with the sales staff.
During the late 1990s, Diesel produced CD-ROMs and other computer content, including the computer game “Digital Adrenalin—55DSL”. In 2007 Diesel sponsored a music contest, Diesel-U-Music. From January to September 2008, Diesel spent $5.8 million on U.S. advertising, according to TNS Media Intelligence. The Grand Prix award at the Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival was won by Diesel in 1997, in 2001 for a campaign featuring the fictitious newspaper “The Daily African”, and for the ad campaign “Be Stupid” in 2010. There is a Diesel Art Gallery in Tokyo. In 2009 the head of Diesel's US division, Steve Birkhold, left the company shortly after agreeing a deal to sell cut-priced jeans through Macy's.