Diesel: Engine of Fashion
More than 30 years ago, the brand Diesel was created, and it still remains an influential force in the world of fashion. Diesel makes not only clothing, but accessories and fragrances, selling their creations on more than 80 nations around the world, sold out of thousands of stores, including several dozen exclusively Diesel stories.
A Trendsetter from the Beginning
Renzo Rosso established his brand, Diesel, in 1978. He wanted something new and determined his company would never follow, but be a leader, boldly blazing its own trail through the world of fashion. He found some of the most talented designers in the business, people of like mind who wanted to buck the current fashion trends. These designers were allowed to create freely – free-minded people making clothing for other free-minded people. These styles were to be for people who wanted to create their own individual styles, expressing themselves through their clothing.
Diesel’s abandonment of the usual dictates of fashion became its greatest strength. They became the leader Rosso envisioned, developing styles that were years ahead of their time. The young audience that Diesel targeted could not get enough of its clothing. For its part, Diesel worked hard not just to create new clothing to make sure everything it produced was of the very highest quality.
To Diesel, there are no borders, no nations, only one great culture that encompasses every human being. What separates people are their personalities, and that is what Diesel strives to express through their clothing. Even the company staff comes from all over the world, creating that unpredictable energy that makes Diesel such an incredible success. This is truly an unorthodox brand, but their drive to innovate has served them well. Diesel has become the subject of study for international corporations, marketing teams, consulting firms, and business schools, looking for the secret of this most unusual success.
At the Forefront
Diesel’s core belief – to be leaders of the field – was the impetus behind the brand’s embrace of the internet. They were early adopters, creating a website in 1995, becoming the first fashion brand to be on the World Wide Web. That same year, at the height of the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell controversy in the United States, Diesel produced an advertisement campaign that featured two male sailors in a passionate kiss. As always, the brand was years ahead of everyone else.
The brand’s first fragrance, Diesel, was unisex when most brands were still shying away from perfumes and colognes that were not designated by gender. This first fragrance was designed in collaboration with Marbert before Diesel fragrances were moved under the auspices of L’Oreal in 2006. Like their clothing, Diesel aims for a young market, producing something fun and different.
The fragrance Diesel is an oriental and woody scent, made from a medley of notes suitable for both men and women, like geranium, cardamom, vanilla, mandarin orange, tonka bean, jasmine, carnation, galbanum, pepper, caraway, amber, ginger, and amalfi lemon.
A pair of later fragrances capitalized on the name Diesel itself – Diesel Fuel for Life. Fuel for Life had one version for men, one for women.
Fuel for Life for Men opened with pink pepper and star anise, with a heart of raspberry and lavender, and a base of heliotrope and vetiver. It is incredibly, almost shockingly simple, something different to the core – like everything made by Diesel.
Fuel for Life for Women is a number of similarities to the masculine version, but maintains the devastatingly direct simplicity that makes the other version so appealing. It has fruitier and more citrusy notes on top, including grapefruit, black currant, and mandarin orange, and a touch of pink pepper. The lightly floral heart is pure jasmine, resting on a warmly seductive base of patchouli and musk.
The Power of the Individual
The fragrances, the fashion, even the accessories, are all about allowing people, especially young people, to be able to pick and choose from among Diesel creations to create a style all their own. When Diesel stores started opening, starting in 1996 in New York, it wasn’t long before there were stores in France and Italy, as well. Each of these stores had its own individual style. For instance, an artist was allowed to spray graffiti on the Union Square store in New York City.
Renzo Rosso was the force behind Diesel, but many believe Wilbert Das was the heart. Das was hired out of fashion school to help design the men’s collection for Diesel, but his talent made him Creative Director by 1993. He was one of the great innovators responsible for so much of Diesel’s success for nearly 20 years, until he moved on in 2009. Even though Das is no longer with Diesel, the brand still holds true to its original value – always to set the trends and never to be a mere follower.