Diesel S.p.A. is an Italian retail clothing company, located in Breganze, Italy. It sells denim, and other clothing, footwear, and accessories. The clothing line currently has two different brands: Diesel and Diesel Black Gold.
Diesel founder Renzo Rosso began stitching jeans on a sewing machine at the age of fifteen. He used his mother’s sewing machine to produce low-riding, bell bottomed jeans, which he would wear himself and sell to his friends for 3500 lira a piece. He later attended an industrial textile manufacturing high school in Padua.
In 1976 Rosso began working for a clothing manufacturer called Moltex, which was owned by Adriano Goldschmied. After working with the company for two years, he used a loan from his father to buy a 40% holding in the company, which changed its name to Diesel, and marketed jeans under the Diesel brand and many others. Rosso bought out Goldschmied’s interest in the Diesel brand name in 1985 for US$500,000, becoming the sole owner of the company. Rosso has said that he learned marketing from the US, creativity from Italy, and systems from Germany.
In 1992, Diesel became the title sponsor for the World Superbike racing circuit. In 1995, Diesel launched one of the first significant fashion retail websites, which housed images of each of its collections. The first Diesel jeans to be sold online were available in Finland and Sweden starting in 1997. It then opened a virtual store that allowed home delivery for further markets the following year.
In 1996, Diesel opened large flagship stores in New York City, San Francisco, Rome, and London, and began to open other mono-brand stores for Diesel in order to augment its points of sale in department and other multi-brand retails stores. Further flagship stores (also known as “StyleLabs”) opened, including stores in Berlin, Barcelona, and Paris. Diesel also produces illustrated catalogs for its retail lines. The company also won the Premio Risultati award for Best Italian Company of the Year from the Bocconi Institute in 1996. In 1998 The Wall Street Journal called Diesel “the label of the moment”.
Diesel founder Rosso began purchasing additional fashion companies in 2002, under the parent company Only The Brave, which Diesel was brought under as well. Companies purchased by Only the Brave included Maison Martin Margiela, Viktor & Rolf, Marni, and licensing company Staff International. In 2005 Diesel released the book “Fifty” upon Rosso’s fiftieth birthday, an illustrated history of the company, with a print-run of ten thousand.
Diesel’s denim’s products are produced exclusively in Italy, with many of its products produced by out-sourced factories. Its headquarters are in Breganze, on the former Moto Laverda factory area, and had twelve international subsidiaries as of 2005. As of 2008, the company had five thousand points of sale across eighty countries, with 270 mono-brand Diesel stores. Diesel itself owns 170 of those, with the rest owned by franchisees. Turnover was over €1.3 billion in 2009, and by 2010 the company had over 400 stores. In 2012 Diesel founder Rosso was listed on the Forbes list of billionaires for the first time. In 2015 the company held the exhibition Welcome to Diesel World in Shanghai, which provided an overview of the company’s history, in conjunction with its collection debut. Another exhibition was held in Tel Aviv to mark the company’s twentieth year in Israel.