Diesel: The revolution has begun
Diesel founder Renzo Ross trailed Nicola Formichetti for more than three years before managing to convince him to join his company. Appointed creative director in April, the Italian-Japanese 35-year-old designer wears many hats and is revolutionizing the entire scope of the brand through operation "Reboot."
Style, advertising, marketing image — all meter readings have been reset to zero to reinvent Diesel and make it into an iconic denim brand icon for the next decade through more sweeping, timeless collections.
Renzo Rosso and Nicola Formichetti talked with FashionMag.com about their project, starting with the launch of two "Reboot" capsule collections next winter and organizing a Diesel runway show in Venice for 2014.
FashionMag: What is currently going on at Diesel?
Renzo Rosso: With Nicola Formichetti for Diesel and Andreas Melbostad for Black Gold, I have two rock stars on board! We are reorganizing the company to lend the brand a new energy and strategy, which will be revamped from top to bottom. This change is being rolled out through a new advertising campaign called "Diesel Reboot." The idea is to reinvent everything by starting over with our identity. Right now, I'm working with Nicola Formichetti on the theme of Diesel’s DNA, which I'm in the process of transferring to him in this first part of our relay. The work done by Nicola thus far is amazing.
Nicola Formichetti: I just started. This year is dedicated to immersing myself in the world of the brand, to study it in-depth and to inject myself with strong doses of Diesel’s DNA. I want to learn history, know everything about the company, how it was created, etc. I am also working on all aspects of the brand, the whole 360°. The apparel collection but also shoes, bags, watches and perfume licenses, photographs, the ad campaign, not to mention social media, obviously.
FM: What has changed in Diesel’s creative process in recent months?
RR: Nicola brought seven or eight people with him — a stylist, an accessories designer and young people to work on the web. What has fundamentally changed is the way we operate, less mechanical. With him, we are more in a system of passion. For example, Nicola creates the piece of clothing right on the model, together with his team. He makes them feel the product on the person. Before, most of this work was done on paper. We did much fewer fittings. Diesel is a hyper-organized machine with incredible internal processes and major technology. We have reached such a sophisticated level that got out of the habit and the feeling of touching the product. Nicola has brought us back to a more concrete dimension. It is a return to the traditional culture of the product but with our great technology.
NF: For me, the fundamentals are stimuli from the outside and the most diverse connections with new talent across the web. That is why I set up the Dieselreboot blog on tumblr.com, which in just three months has shown record growth on that platform. I do not want to reach specialists. Diesel is a global brand and this blog is an honest way to work in reaching out to all talented people. That's how I found a great photographer, a graphic designer and a wonderful jewelry designer. It's a great initiative. There is a good feeling. I am constantly traveling between London, Tokyo, New York, Paris and Italy. This also lets me more easily meet with all these people.
FM: What will change in the collections?
RR: There will be a general change with collections less focused on fashion and more timeless, ones that can be worn over time.
NF: The seasons will no longer be the determining factor of the collections. I want to end the current nightmare where the store windows are only showing winter clothes when it is hot out and vice versa. I want to make clothes that can be purchased!
FM: When will we see the work of Nicola Formichetti?
RR: While we wait for his first collection in autumn-winter 2014, we are starting right away with two "Reboot" capsule collections. These are two mini collections of 25 historical denim Diesel pieces, reinterpreted by Nicola Formichetti's awesome vision: shirts, pants, sweatshirts, hats, belts, sneakers, etc. The first one will be all denim, the second one in black denim and black leather.
NF: I'm working on my first collection. I redesigned everything, jeans, T-shirts, jackets ... the entire wardrobe. It's very exciting! I want to make very wearable fashion, which is not only original for its design, because Diesel must be worn by people in the street. The collection will be very extensive and presented in March at a runway show in Venice. We chose this city because it symbolizes the Venetian roots of the brand. This is the region where the company forged its history.
FM: Do you consider yourself complementary to each other?
RR: Yes. Now I can spend more time on scouting. In the past few years, I am becoming more global when it comes to creativity. I meet the designers of the world. I want to understand who they are and be able to observe and follow their development from one year to another. Not just the designer, but also the stylist. The person who starts with a design to create a whole universe around a product and make the line successful. This global monitoring allows me to encounter and understand countless and varied angles and always find the right person to put in the right job. That's an important element for a group like mine (OTB), which owns several brands. Creativity is the basis for building a brand and a business.
NF: Diesel needs creativity to survive. Every day you have to be crazier and more creative, which Renzo constantly pushes me to do. I think I can bring something innovative to Diesel and we will grow together. Here we can really experiment. When I worked for Lady Gaga, as soon as I invented a new look, the next day it was everywhere. I feel there is this same power with Diesel. We have great ideas and we will do grand projects.
FM: Nicola, what surprised you the most when you came to Diesel?
NF: In this company, everyone is lovely. People smile, they love life. They are not at all snobbish. Compared to Paris, where I worked for two years, there is a big difference!
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