This is disturbing news indeed, Wilbert Das is pivotal in shaping DIESEL into what it is today. With his departure, Renzo has really big shoes to fill in terms of finding a new creative director. Also, CEO of the US Division, Steve Birkhold has jumped ship to Lacoste.
Hopefully with Sophia Kokosalaki in the mix designing for Diesel Black Gold ,as well as the vast pool of talent the ITS awards would smoothen the transition. And perhaps chart a bold new course for the company. Like the cliché: the only constant is change.
Diesel out of fuel
Dueling execs end 20-yr. tie, imperiling jeans maker
By JAMES COVERT // November 14, 2009 // www.nypost.com
Some big wheels are coming off at Diesel.
Wilbert Das, a soft-spoken Dutch designer who has been creative director at the Italian jeans maker since 1993, has left the company amid frustration with Diesel's high-profile, curly-haired founder Renzo Rosso, sources told The Post.
The beef: Rosso's taste for hogging the spotlight -- despite the fashion tycoon's carefully cultivated image as a laid-back champion of his employees and business partners.
"Wilbert is the most successful designer you never heard of," according to one source close to the company. "He's tired of doing all the work while Renzo takes all the credit."
Renzo Rosso's Diesel is running into trouble - the company's Creative Director Wilbert Das and US CEO Steve Birkhold are fed up and resigning.
Neither Das nor Rosso could be reached for comment yesterday. But the souring of their 20-year partnership has become increasingly public of late, sources said.
Indeed, as of yesterday a Wikipedia entry on Das said the designer "emphasizes always collaboration and teamwork." Meanwhile, it tags Rosso as "a figure known in the industry to be passionate about publicizing his own name."
The departure of Das, who in addition to designing the company's pricey jeans had long been a driving force behind its guerilla marketing and advertising strategies, threatens a crushing blow to Diesel.
To make matters worse, the CEO of the fashion house's US division, Steve Birkhold, has resigned to join a rival firm.
As first reported by The Post earlier this week, Birkhold, a VF Corp. veteran, was recently caught in a tiff with higher-ups in Italy over a deal he cut to distribute lower-priced jeans at Macy’s next spring.
Sources said some executives in Italy had been concerned that a move to Macy's might widen its distribution too far.
Reached by telephone yesterday, Birkhold downplayed the internal disagreements, saying that "everybody was on board" at Diesel before the Macy's deal went forward. The timing of Birkhold's departure and this week's story in The Post was "a total coincidence," he said.
Birkhold said he submitted his resignation five weeks ago to pursue "an amazing opportunity with a large company, a global lifestyle brand." He declined to name his new employer, saying the firm hadn't yet told its own employees. An announcement is planned Monday, a spokeswoman said.
Rosso's $2 billion fashion empire, which he has built in recent years by acquiring stakes in hot brands like Martin Margiela and Viktor & Rolf -- isn't necessarily crumbling. Still, the Diesel brand isn't the only part where natives are getting restless.
Dean and Dan Caten, the twin designers of the Dsquared fashion brand also owned by Rosso are "tired of seeing their designs being ripped off by Diesel," a source said. "You can see it happening, season in, season out."