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A look at some key years in the life of Diesel.
This story first appeared in the April 24, 2003 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Renzo Rosso and Adriano Goldschmied found the Diesel brand. It’s part of their portfolio under the Genius Group. The first complete men’s collection follows the next year.
Diesel begins exporting clothing outside Italy. A trip to a Milan trade show the previous year led to contact with a distributor who begins selling the brand in Germany.
On His Own
Rosso and Goldschmied part ways, with Rosso assuming full ownership of the Diesel operation. Rosso wants to expand international distribution broader and spends much of the year on planes seeking new customers abroad.
Diesel hires Wilbert Das as assistant male designer. Das rises through the ranks and in 1993 is named creative director, a post he still holds today.
So Long, Androgyne
Diesel launches its first group of clothing specifically for women.
Diesel licenses the rights to produce and sell its brand in the U.S. to Ross Togs Inc. The deal proves to be an ill-fated one and by the end of 1991 Russ Togs is in Chapter 11. This allows Diesel to buy back its license for the U.S., and Rosso vows from that point forward to go it alone in America.
Awakening to Advertising
Diesel launches its first ad campaign, kicking off the “For Successful Living” theme in an ad featuring a blonde woman astride an oversized tire, with the tag line “How to Tighten Your Grip.”
Rosso’s sons, avid skiers, decide to get into snowboarding and feel an uncontrollable urge for baggy pants. The company launches 55DSL, its first spinoff brand, to cater to the new sport.
The company opens its first U.S. flagship on Lexington Avenue in Manhattan, catty-corner to Bloomingdale’s on 59th Street. Diesel also moves its executive offices in above the selling floor, allowing the top U.S. brass to keep a close eye on the action.
Diesel acquires Italian ready-to-wear maker Staff International, which had produced Diesel’s former New York Industrie brand, as well as Diesel StyleLab.
Half A Billion
Despite the slowdown in luxury spending following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, Diesel’s worldwide revenues pass the $500 million mark.
In September, Diesel buys the house of intensely secretive Belgian designer Martin Margiela, as part of its effort to broaden its branded business. It doesn’t mark Diesel’s first step to join with a well-known designer, though. Earlier in the year, Karl Lagerfeld designed a collection of jeans in cooperation with Diesel.
Diesel sells the New York Industrie brand to McAdams, which also agrees to begin producing some knitwear for other Diesel subsidiaries.