TOKYO — To commemorate 30 years of doing business in Japan, Diesel presented its fall collection here with a special runway show targeting consumers. The brand’s artistic director, Nicola Formichetti, decked out a warehouse to look like “old school Japan” for the occasion.
“Thirty years ago Diesel Japan was founded, so I was thinking about around that time and it’s all about this kind of underground, rundown noodle bars and subway station,” Formichetti said on the sidelines of Thursday’s show. The runway looked like it could easily have been a gritty underground passage, and was lined with graffiti covered train station benches. Large screens around the perimeter of the venue flashed fake advertisements for karaoke bars and more, and food stalls topped with neon signage served guests everything from noodles and Chinese dumplings to kebab sandwiches and Russian pierogies.
“The collection was actually inspired by a journey from Europe to Asia, a train journey on the Trans Siberian Express,” with Japan being the last destination, Formichetti explained. “The silhouettes are very inspired by Japan, very baggy and very tight. It’s this kind of juxtaposition of silhouettes. Kimono silhouettes, judo pants.”
The show was streamed around the world as it took place, and the collection was simultaneously available to shop online and in stores. Some models wore futuristic looking helmets, attached to which were cameras that recorded the event from their point of view.
After the runway show, the brand unveiled an exhibition titled #ForSuccessfulLiving, a project shot by photographer Terry Richardson. It consists of 50 motivational phrases relating to Diesel’s philosophy, such as “make yourself heard,” “never lie,” “stretch your mind” and “stand for something.” After Tokyo, the exhibit will travel worldwide, stopping in Shanghai, London, Milan and New York before the end of this year.
Japan has always been an important market for Diesel, and remains so to this day, making up 21.4 percent of the brand’s total sales. Founder Renzo Rosso said it continues to see slight positive growth here.
“This year is particularly difficult because it’s difficult I think for every brand in the world. But we’re still growing,” Rosso said. “Sometimes we lose, sometimes we win, but we’re still positive.”
But Rosso also said growth isn’t the most important thing for Diesel right now, in Japan or anywhere in the world.
“Our dream, not only in Japan but all over the [world] is really to become the real alternative to luxury. So we want to stay cool, nice,” he said. “You have to grow because this is necessary, but there are a lot of countries that are just starting now, so maybe we can grow more there. But instead of becoming too big I prefer to become more cool. Our consumers love what we’re doing and…they can dream to buy what we’re doing.”
The Tokyo event was the first major fashion show Diesel has staged since Formichetti took over as artistic director three years ago.
“I wanted to be ready. I was basically building my team and foundation at the company, so now we’re ready so we’re going to be doing shows,” the designer said. “I want to do it in Milan, because that’s where we are, and we’re an Italian company and I feel like it’s time to do something big in Italy. We’re opening our flagship store with a new concept at the end of the year, so it kind of ties the whole thing up.”
Rosso was visibly emotional after Tuesday’s show, which he attributed to being able to visualize the future of Diesel with Formichetti at the helm.
“He is a very fantastic guy because he stays close to me to listen to the DNA,” Rosso said of Formichetti. “And tonight I was very happy because I really feel that, wow, this guy can really bring with his hand, Diesel [into] the future. I’m very excited, you can see I’m very emotional.”
“I think it’s great that we’re here in Tokyo because it’s such an emotional place for Renzo because he basically started Diesel because of Japan. Japan influenced him a lot back in the day. So today he was so happy that he sees the future in me and Diesel together for the next 30 years,” Formichetti added.