PLAYING IT COOL
What does it take to be a cult denim label? Global CEO Alessandro Bogliolo tells jacquie ang about the lengths they go to make Diesel desirable
alessandro bogliolo remembers his first Diesel jeans. It was the 1990s, and it was a low-rise pair in light blue with a slightly flared leg. A world of difference from the rigid denims he was used to, the fit and comfort surprised him. So too did the price. “I hesitated for a while before I handed my credit card over,” he confesses. “And then it took about three seconds for me to realise that I wasn’t just paying for a pair of jeans — I was buying a beautiful piece of fashion. Until then, jeans was just another blue pants to me.”
As proof of how well Diesel stands up against the test of time, he still has that same pair of jeans. “I wear it occasionally. The colour is much lighter now but it’s still beautiful,” says Bogliolo, who was recently in town to visit the brand’s Paragon boutique, which reopened in March after a hiatus.
Mention Diesel and a fashion rebel comes to mind. To stay on top of the game, founder Renzo Rosso enlisted Italian-japanese stylist Nicola Formichetti (best known for pushing fashion boundaries with Lady Gaga) as artistic director and Bogliolo (formerly from Bulgari) as global CEO in 2013. Together, they embarked on the major #Dieselreboot project, modernising and elevating the brand while restoring its original DNA, and keeping it utterly cool.
Not wanting to run the risk of Diesel being seen as just a run-ofthe-mill denim brand, the company left the market while changes were underway. “We wanted to return, recharged with a total new look and concept,” Bogliolo explains. “We don’t want to expand our lines or stores and become huge; we prefer to be cool for now.”
Today, the brand’s designs are even better built. Already clever iterations, such as the revolutionary Jogg Jeans (a jersey-denim hybrid with the look and durability of denim but the comfort of sweatpants) have been enhanced. New-gen versions are even softer and with a better drape. “We have been investing a lot in fabrications. Technical innovations like this set our jeans apart from traditional denim and other brands,” he shares.
Signs of Diesel’s rebirth can also be seen from its new 138 sqm Paragon store, which is decked out in leather, dark metal and stainless steel accents — a refinement of the industrial aesthetic it brandished in the 1990s. Gender-neutral, it also speaks to the shared language Formichetti has established for the men’s and women’s collections
But what’s the secret to cool? “By being faithful to the brand personality and not taking it to places it doesn’t belong,” replies Bogliolo. “We may lose big business opportunities for not creating products that sell well, but when you don’t stick to who you are, nobody recognises you.”
clockwise From top: Alessandro Bogliolo HAS Been A Diesel client since the 1990s; customise Your JEANS with Different kinds of rivets; the revolutionary JOGG JEANS