By  on January 9, 2012

MILAN — Diesel chief Renzo Rosso considers himself “a citizen of the world” and has never denied a special penchant for America and the American dream. But that didn’t stop him from selecting Milan for the first official runway show of the men’s Diesel Black Gold collection, to be held Jan. 17. The decision shows Rosso’s heavy involvement in the design of the brand and its increased status within his stable.

“We are starting to reap the rewards from the line, which has an excellent [sell-through], and customers are starting to look out for it,” said Rosso. The choice of showing in Milan also further defines the separation between the men’s and women’s division, the latter of which will continue to show in New York. “Milan is the city of excellence in terms of business for men’s wear, and we are now being recognized as a real, distinctive brand,” he explained.

The brand’s first boutique, designed with the help of young interior designer Ryan Korban, who has worked with the likes of Alexander Wang, will open in February as a pop-up store on New York’s Greene Street, replacing a venue that carried the now-defunct Diesel Denim Gallery line. The company’s plan is to evaluate the location for about a year. “There is a serious business plan,” said Rosso, noting that additional stores dedicated to the brand are scheduled to open globally, following the New York unit.

Wholesale accounts total 130 stores worldwide. Key department store clients for men’s wear include Galeries Lafayette and Printemps in Paris; La Rinascente in Milan; Bloomingdale’s in New York; Holt Renfrew in Canada; Lane Crawford in Hong Kong, and Isetan, Hankyu and Takashimaya elsewhere in the Far East.

While Sophia Kokosalaki is in charge of women’s wear as well as art direction for both divisions, a team is responsible for the men’s category, and is heavily influenced by Rosso. “It’s me, my style, my own wardrobe, what I like to wear. It has Diesel’s rock essence, with a chic element,” he said. The collection harkens back to Diesel’s roots, with military construction and vintage biker looks, with Seventies cuts and sophisticated treatments. The color palette ranges from black and anthracite to navy blue, tobacco, olive green, electric blue, eggplant and brilliant red.

In 2011, Diesel Black Gold sales totaled around 40 million euros, or $55.6 million at an average exchange rate.

Rosso said he is working on a separate ad campaign for the brand.

In April 2010, Diesel Black Gold became a separate business division under the stewardship of Andrea Baldo, a company veteran who was appointed general manager.

Aimed at a higher end of the market with more fashion content compared with the Diesel line, Black Gold made its debut in February 2008 during New York Fashion Week.

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