By  on September 24, 2009

MILAN — Diesel’s youth and action sport-inspired 55DSL label is growing up as it celebrates its 15th anniversary this year.

Originally created as a Diesel capsule collection, creative director Andrea Rosso has sought to develop the line into a distinct collection with a defined identity that draws from his sport-meets-the-street mentality. The goal for Rosso, son of Diesel founder Renzo Rosso, has been to translate his passion for action sports, such as skate- and snowboarding, into 55DSL.

“Today, I like to define it as a lifestyle brand that links street, urban elements, together with trends and fashion concepts,” said Rosso, adding that 55DSL also draws inspiration from music and graphics. “It has a world around it, an international community that embraces a real life philosophy.”

Based in Marostica, near Bassano del Grappa in Italy’s Veneto region, the brand is under the Only the Brave umbrella, which includes labels such as Diesel, Martin Margiela and Sophia Kokosalaki.

To commemorate the 15th anniversary, the company has introduced the “Hi-Jack” project, featuring a collection of reproductions of 15 pieces that most represent the brand. The label also took over portions of Diesel’s 15 largest U.S. stores beginning Sept. 15 to sell the reproductions for 15 days.

The Diesel Union Square store in New York is housing an in-store shop carrying 55DSL’s complete men’s wear lifestyle collection, including a limited edition line of T-shirts developed through a collaboration with five renowned graphic artists. The line’s first footwear collaboration, the Adidas Originals XV/55 sneaker, will also be on offer.

Rosso said he targets young customers with an easy-to-wear, competitively priced product. Average retail prices range from 30 euros, or $44 at current exchange, for a T-shirt, to 100 euros, or $147, for a jacket. T-shirts are among the brand’s bestsellers, whether branded with institutional logos or featuring graphics, together with colored denim pants.

“The brand is colorful, young and playful, and we want our customers to actively feel part of our world,” said Rosso, who has developed a dedicated 55DSL.com Web site.

The brand continues to invest in its own network of stores, as well, and is finding significant growth opportunities in Asia. Over the last year, it has worked with Carnival International Ltd. to open two 55DSL stores in Beijing and another in Shanghai.

“We were impressed by the positive reaction to our brand in China,” said Rosso.

This year has seen the opening of an in-store shop in Shanghai’s Jiu Guang department store, and the launches of freestanding stores in Nagoya and Kobe in Japan, at the Dubai Mall, and in New York and London. A store will open in Morocco by yearend.

The brand is available at about 1,000 points of sale around the world and counts 20 55DSL stores.

Rosso is confident about the 55DSL’s prospects for growth, but seems committed to maintaining a high degree of flexibility and creativity in his approach. The priority, he said, is to “always be dynamic and creative and to talk to those that want to be part of our world” with “unexpected cooperations,” new stores and “embracing young artists.”

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