MUMBAI, India — Diesel, best known for denim, will make its first foray into a global ath-leisure collection on Wednesday with an unusual focus: cricket.
The 26-stockkeeping unit special collection, which already went on sale last week in the 11 Diesel stores in India, is a collaboration between the brand and the Indian Premier League cricket team Mumbai Indians.
The team is owned by the Reliance Group. Diesel retails in India in partnership with Reliance Brands, which is part of the Reliance Group.
“The collaboration is just starting because we discovered that these iconic people who play cricket, they are superstars,” Renzo Rosso, founder of Diesel, told WWD at the Indian launch of the collection in Mumbai.
“So Diesel buyers who love cricket and the superstars and cricket fans all over the world will connect with it. You have to consider that India has so many inhabitants, more than a billion people. Also cricket is very well-known in the U.K., Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, a lot of countries,” he said.
“Diesel and Mumbai Indians are two iconic brands, similar in spirit, with global resonance, and we are teaming up around a shared dream of pride, passion and bravery. We want to make this collaboration unique, fueled with innovation and modernity,” Rosso added.
The next big sports launch for Diesel will also be later this month, with a project Renzo described as “very close to the heart.”
“We are the styling partner for AC Milan [Italian football club] and with them we are doing something very brave. We are changing the formal look of the soccer players in a very brave way into an informal look. This will be presented on Dec. 23 in Doha in Qatar, where there is a big match,” he said.
Both collections are for before and after the game, not for the sports field.
The sportier look is also spilling over into design elements for the core Diesel brand. “We are talking about trends such as oversize — two or three sizes bigger — and another trend is for more sports-oriented fashion. It’s how to be cool today. So it is a good influence — sports influencing the fashion system,” Rosso commented.
A momentary trend, or also a part of growing business?
“I think it is both, a trend and a part of business growing because it is also very comfortable,” he said.
The cricket collection is a limited edition for two seasons.
Nita Ambani, owner of the Mumbai Indians and chairperson of the Reliance foundation, described the new launch as “a momentous step for Mumbai Indians.”
Talking about the increasing trend towards sportier clothing in India, Darshan Mehta, president and chief executive officer of Reliance Brands Ltd., explained, “There is an oversimplification of how the Indian market is often understood. Now people are mixing moods, mixing expressions. There is a certain nonchalance now to make it all look effortless and thoughtless.”
As for the collection, Andrea Rosso, Diesel’s creative director for licenses, said, “We took inspiration from the classic aesthetics of cricket which is clean, masculine, preppy, formal, made of sophisticated and very recognizable details. The ‘V’ shapes that are inherent to the cricket uniform highlights the athlete’s silhouette and celebrates the elegance of this sport.
“The ‘V’ shape is present throughout the whole collection and is one of Diesel’s DNA staple. We played with this distinctive element, applying it to different shapes, washes and treatments and using the Mumbai Indians team colors with hints of white, gold, ochre, orange and blue that are well-connected to the world of denim.”
Speaking about 2016 for the Diesel brand, Rosso said that the results for this year were expected to be lower than last year. “The company is moving from 1.1 billion euros [in revenues] to less than 1 billion euros [$1.06 billion at current exchange]. We have cut the size of the collection and focused on more quality, more beautiful products and increased the status of Diesel in general. Diesel is becoming really an alternative to luxury,” he said.
Rosso added that the trend in 2017 would be towards more consolidation of retail outlets for the brand — to reduce the present 400 stores worldwide by more than two dozen stores. However, he said that the store count would continue to increase in some countries like China and India, while consolidating elsewhere.