Diesel is an ambitious brand. From humble roots in Molvena, a tiny town in the North-East of Italy, Diesel has evolved from an Italian denim brand into a global lifestyle brand with a €1.3billion annual turnover. Not bad for a 35year old business.
But why “Diesel”? Italy is renowned for its fashion designers – but this one sounds distinctly un-Italian. The answer probably lies in the brand’s philosophy: a borderless globe and a singular visual language. From this philosophy has sprung the brand’s international success in selling clothing, eyewear, footwear and, obviously, underwear all over the world.
THE REBELLIOUS HISTORY OF DIESEL
When founder Renzo Rosso rebranded the denim manufacturer ‘Moltex’ to Diesel in 1978 his goal was to create a truly authentic brand. At the time, fashion and technology were evolving rapidly. Whilst other brands chased the next trend, Rosso wanted Diesel’s denim to stay true to its roots. Diesel jeans were distressed and vintage – they looked ‘worn’ from the moment of purchase. It was an innovative but retrospective approach and it catapulted the brand to success in Italy and, later, worldwide.
The history of Diesel is a history of going against the grain – and the brand continues to raise eyebrows today. Diesel is a brand for rebels – ignoring the highly-strung world of trend forecasts and coming up with unique ranges from their designers’ own creativity and tastes. They have a purposefully multi-national team who travel the globe up to 4 times a year to get inspiration. International fashion, Made in Italy. And it works.
Their advertising campaigns rarely market their products directly, but rather build and reinforce the brand’s message. Tongue-in-cheek humour, irony, and black comedy are mixed together in often explosive campaigns that garner both praise and backlash. Like the Global Warming campaign – a cheeky nod at the hysteria around global warming that was accused of making light of the topic…
We featured our personal favourite campaign on the blog before – Diesel’s Fresh & Bright underwear range. Not-so-superheroes stripped out of their lycra for this visually striking campaign that asked – why shouldn’t day-to-day superheroes have sex appeal too?
The powerful imagery doesn’t stop there. This young couple literally break away from their provincial Italian roots – undoubtedly an allegory of the history of Diesel and their own progression to global status. And as for the cowboy with the blow-up Russian dolls… Well, let’s just say it’s provocative.
Be young and stupid – the message of Diesel’s latest campaign. The campaign claims creativity is borne of stupidity and not sensibility… But we don’t think there is anything stupid about Diesel’s marketing.
The brand is all about individuality in a globalised world, rejecting external pressure, and unadulterated fun. It shows in their underwear. The poppy Fresh & Bright collection cares nothing for subtlety with its strong colours and bold design. Recent Limited Edition printed underwear is specially designed to be cut from a fabric in such a way that no two items are ever the same. And Diesel is one of the first designer brands to adopt the latest trend in underwear – the fashion jockstrap. Diesel doesn’t care what people think – in fact, it quite likes the attention.