Renzo Rosso makes his first trousers at the age of 15 and begins to sell the jeans made to his friends, immediately showing his entrepreneurial attitude. His first work experience takes place in the laboratory of one of the leading jeans manufacturers of the time, the one of Adriano Goldschmied; After two years, in 1978, Renzo Rosso founded, together with Goldschmied, the Diesel brand. The choice of the name falls on a word that at that time was associated with an alternative energy, a symbol of an equally alternative fashion, and that gives the idea of universality, choosing precisely a word that is pronounced in the same way throughout the world.
In 1985 Renzo Rosso acquired the full ownership of Diesel and focused on casual clothing, in particular on the production of jeans, leading the brand to have a great global success. The brand is immediately characterized by a strong innovative spirit, being among the first to treat denim with particular industrial processes and include it among the luxury proposals of fashion.
Jeans no longer belong only to casual clothing but is elevated to luxury. Diesel collections are distinguished by unique denim processing: stone washed jeans, treated in such a way as to age the appearance of the fabric and characterized by tears, is proposed for the first time. Among the specialties of the brand there are the “dirty” washing or a process that involves a yellow pre-dyeing of the fabric and the “shadow wash” that creates indigo shades on denim.
1991 is the year in which the fashion house launches the advertising campaign For Successful Living: the style of communication of the brand is immediately distinguished by originality and irreverence, In fact, the images do not simply show the product but use evocative photos that address issues such as contemporary social issues, politics and attention to the environment.
In the United States, where jeans are almost a cult object, Renzo Rosso places Diesel in a higher price range than competitors, such as Levi’s and Wrangler; promoting the uniqueness of its product, it immediately succeeds in conquering overseas success with models, such as the Cheyenne, inspired by Native American culture.
The company has such a strong expansion that in 1996 it opened the first single-brand stores in Rome, London and New York. In 1998 the Stylelab brand was born and later became Diesel Black Gold, dedicated exclusively to ready-to-wear luxury items. In the following years Diesel expands its collections with the introduction of children’s clothing, eyewear, watches, perfumes and home furnishings, under the name of Diesel Living, thus creating a lifestyle concept of the brand at all.
In 2002, Renzo Rosso founded the OTB group (Only the Brave) and bought several fashion brands including: Maison Martin Margiela, Viktor & Rolf, Marni, Dsquared2 and Just Cavalli. On the occasion of the thirtieth anniversary, in 2008, a limited edition of jeans called “Dirty Thirty” was launched, available only for a day in selected stores that created long lines, anticipating today’s trend of limited-edition product releases.
The novelties proposed by Diesel continue with the introduction of products such as the JoggJeans, a mix between sweatpants and jeans created in a very soft fabric and with experimentation on different materials such as the Tencel/ Lyocell, a fibre produced from extremely resistant cellulose and good breathability. Among the best-known testimonials were Liam Hemsworth, Winnie Harlow and Fedez; also in 2016 Diesel was a sponsor of AC Milan and created the uniforms of the football team with a unique style, combining casual elements with sartorial elegance.
In 2020, the Belgian designer Gleen Martens was appointed creative director of the brand and in 2022 he brought Diesel back on the catwalk at the Milan Fashion Week fall/winter 22-23, with a collection perfectly in line with the idea of innovation always supported: Most of the garments, even the furs, have been completely made in denim.
Cover Image: Diesel