THE GODFATHER OF COOL. At the launch of Diesel’s new seasonal campaign, Renzo Rosso talks to Chris Andre about why cool is better than pure success
Famous fashion figures are known for their unique traits. You have Karl Lagerfeld with his shades, Carolina Herrera with the black-and-white attire, and you have Renzo Rosso, founder of Diesel, who is larger than life with unabashed positivity anywhere, anytime. From his social media, you can definitely see how the 62-year-old is living it up from partying in Tokyo to drinking champagnes in Italy with the family. Yes, it’s the modern fashion dream.
But what went on behind all that is pure hard work and love. Rosso himself spends hours and weekends at work, mingles with the partners he’d love to know more, and, for almost forty years, he has never stopped loving denim. When met in London, just hours before Diesel’s official campaign launch party, this godfather of cool was all smiles and exudes pure positivity, a definitely cherished moment to remember for a long time.
Chris Andre: Let’s talk about the new fashion campaign. What makes it special?
Renzo Rosso: Because it reflects the real DNA of the brand. We used to be like this in the past, but now since I’m spending more time with the Diesel team, we’re able to bring back that unique theme and spirit. We have so many brands in the company, but, luckily, we have good structure and organization. But Diesel as a brand is my baby. For this particular campaign, you can see there’s art, there’s people. It’s really, really magic. It really makes me proud. It’s similar to the campaigns we’ve done before, but with the modernity of the 2017. It’s the same mentality, of course.
Chris Andre: The secret keyword for a good campaign now seems to be millennials. How’s this related to this generation?
Renzo Rosso: It’s related to them but also with many people. The millennials are those agents of the change; they see the world and try to conform it to what they need and what they want. Others don’t want to fight anymore, because they’ve spent much of their life doing that before. The amount of hours and hours the millennials are spending on the social media is proof to that statement alone. So, in essence, they have the world before them, not like when we were young before. And I love young people; my success owes to them. And they keep me young, although I’m already over 60 years old now. This is also why we [Diesel] are still very cool after a long time.
Chris Andre: Having been in the industry for such a long time, does fashion business get easier for you?
Renzo Rosso: You have to divide the period of time to answer that. It was easy for me in the past because of the people I worked with already had a different set of mentality and culture. When I was young, when I couldn’t find the right people in Italy to support my company, I had to hire people from around the world. Then we created such an incredible brand. After that, I started to buy other brands. Unfortunately, that’s when we lost a little bit of touch of coolness in Diesel. That’s why now I’m back, spending more time with the brand. Diesel’s DNA is my DNA, although it’s worlds apart from more than 30 years ago.
Chris Andre: So, how do you define being cool?
Renzo Rosso: You can see the desire! Everyone around the world shakes your hands and says “I love what you do.” That love is cool.
Chris Andre: Can cool be associated with not being in the mainstream?
Renzo Rosso: Diesel, to tell you the truth, can actually be three to five times bigger than today. But I don’t look into it. For me, it’s more interesting to have a cool brand than a big brand. Tell me, is it interesting to work in Toyota or Maserati? These days, people have everything they want and like in their life. So, I prefer to run a group of cool brands because I want to create that desire to want something new.
Chris Andre: The 40th anniversary of Diesel is coming next year. Any big plan for it?
Renzo Rosso: I have only started to plan a little, but we still have time. It’s exactly on October 6, 2018. Soon we’ll have to start to do something.
Chris Andre: For any budding fashion business player, what’s it important to learn to be successful?
Renzo Rosso: Success is not easy. To do something nice, you have to suffer. You have to work days and nights and on the weekends. You have to work a lot. The fabrics, treatments, combinations, accessories … to have complete education in fashion business, you need to learn all the details. And you have to be really hungry to learn. Never think you can learn fast. You need time to build yourself or your brand to be solid.
“Success is not easy. To do something nice, you have to suffer”
Chris Andre: One last thing, Diesel ran their campaign on porn sites last season. Is there such a thing as bad publicity?
Renzo Rosso: I’d like to say we finally have the right DNA of who we are now. We also have a real team to do what we need. The positivity of our brand, the message is crucial. The product only comes after the campaign. What we desire now is the interaction with the customers. Be nice with them. Have them recognize and post the campaign on their social media. Then, they’d buy the product. It’s a brand with a soul.