Diesel North American chief executive officer Stefano Rosso is a gamer. He grew up playing Atari but, in his words, life took over, and he put games on the back burner to start a career in fashion.
But on Thursday, Rosso and his partner Furio Giraldi will launch D-Cave, a lifestyle gaming pop-up shop that bridges the gaming, fashion and music worlds.
“I’ve always been a player but never professionally. Recently, I was able to rediscover how much this environment has been growing,” he said. “It’s time to bring all of the elements of the lifestyle of gaming under one roof. This is almost a dream come true for people like me who have been playing since they were kids.”
D-Cave will be open at 415 Broadway through March 1, and will offer gaming and music programming over the three days. The two-floor pop-up will host a marketplace and music on the first level and dedicate the second floor to gaming events such as a FIFA gaming tournament with the New York City Football Club and New York RedBull FIFA players, Fortnite with Nate Hill of FaZe Clan and DrLupo, and an appearance from competitive fighting game player Justin Wong.
Rosso tapped Fool’s Gold Records to provide music and programming for the weekend and a secret special guest performance is planned. In terms of fashion, D-Cave will offer exclusive FaZe Clan merchandise and new products from Champion and Kappa, as well as a LQQK Studios customization station. No Diesel merchandise will be sold at the pop-up.
“There is a lot of interest now from fashion brands, and it’s interesting how it’s taking different dynamics and different shapes,” Rosso said. “Fashion is approaching teams, teams are trying to make their own merchandise. That’s one of the opportunities I see in D-Cave. We can be a landing spot for alternative collabs, merchandise and everything around the gaming lifestyle.”
Rosso said the FIFA event will be by invitation, but gaming on Friday and Saturday and the Fortnite event on Sunday will be free to the public. Attendees can also pay to take part in a tournament for a chance to win prizes.
The D-Cave concept is in a unique space shared by video game lounges across the U.S., including OS at 50 Bowery in New York City that has modern games like Fortnite, Overwatch, League of Legends, NBA 2K, FIFA, Street Fighter V, Mario Kart 8 and Smash Bros. Ultimate among others.
Most of the games at D-Cave will be fighting games such as Street Fighter V, Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3, Marvel vs. Capcom 2 and Dragon Ball FighterZ.
“Fighting games kind of represent the New York City spirit,” Rosso said. “New York has a big fighting game community and we really wanted to be relevant for the local market.”
Rosso said he plans to open a permanent D-Cave location in New York City and additional pop-ups in Los Angeles “for sure,” he said, as well as Boston and Atlanta. “I would like to use the pop-up as market testing and a special moment,” Rosso said, adding that he also wants to develop the brand in Asia and Europe.
Measuring the success of a concept like D-Cave is difficult since much of the programming will be free, but Rosso said the goals are different. “To see the gaming community have a good time and bring them an opportunity to play, but also a moment to socialize, have a drink and go beyond gaming is also a big part of the success,” he said.
Rosso also has interest in partnering with a gaming league, and mentioned the apparel partnership between Overwatch and Jeff Staple as an example. “There’s always space to do interesting and cool stuff,” he said.
And what does Rosso think about fashion and gaming’s growing relationship that includes capsule collections from Champion and Kappa, endorsements from Nike and Adidas, and interest from Louis Vuitton?
“I really believe this can be a very interesting, new bubble in the sense that it’s a new marketplace,” he said. “It’s just something I feel in my stomach when you understand lifestyle, fashion, the gaming community, I believe we’re going to drive a good experience. Only the brave all the way.”