Sunday, 23 May 2010
Livemint.com Fri // May 7 2010 // by Rachana Nakra
Diesel’s Renzo Rosso sold his first pair of handmade jeans for $2 (around Rs89 now) in Italy. The founder and president of the iconic denim brand made the pair with 2m of denim, using his mother’s sewing machine, when he was 15. He dipped the denim in bleach to lighten the shade of blue. “I don’t know why, maybe because the denim was stiff, but I took the jeans and did this,” he says in his heavily accented English, mimicking the motion of placing the jeans on the floor and scrubbing them.
The first distressed denim was born and worn by Rosso’s friends. “That would give me money to go out at night and drink. This was 40 years ago, can you imagine?” Rosso says.
Four decades later, Diesel has set up its flagship store in Mumbai, the first in India. I meet the man behind the brand in Juhu on the day of the store launch. He is here on a short visit and this is the first time he has stepped into the store. Dressed though he is in a dark shirt with a black blazer and, of course, jeans, it may seem that Rosso needs a haircut and shave. But the unruly mop, the three-day-old beard and unbuttoned shirt that reveals a silver pendant bearing his initials, all add up to the casual and cool look that’s quintessentially Diesel.
Rosso has partnered with Reliance Brands Ltd to bring Diesel to India. Darshan Mehta, CEO, Reliance Brands, is also at the 7,500 sq. ft store, showing Rosso around.
For the company that created a market for new jeans that looked old, something that may have sounded stupid turned out to be a smart idea. In fact, Diesel’s latest advertising campaign is asking people to “be stupid”—right from the signs at the entrance and as a running theme inside. “Smart may have the brains, but stupid has the balls,” says one of them.
As a Diesel philosophy, no two stores in any part of the world can look the same—the displays and merchandise are different. Rosso is happy with the look of the Mumbai store but he still doesn’t think it’s complete. “This is me. Even when a new collection is coming out, I never say, wow, this is fantastic. It could be better. It’s kind of a malady. You want to achieve perfection,” he says, sipping his espresso on a white couch on the first floor of the three-storey store.
The Diesel story began in Italy when a friend offered Rosso a job as production director of a small company manufacturing jeans. In 1978, he created Diesel, starting with his own line of distressed jeans. He named it that because it was easy to pronounce the world over. “Everyone was shocked with my idea to sell distressed jeans 32 years ago. Nobody understood it. They make broken denim? They must be crazy. We had few customers,” he says. But Rosso was convinced: “I defend my opinion, and developed the concept till one day, it became a part of every luxury line everywhere,” he says, smiling.
Denim before Diesel was a symbol for rebels, feels Rosso. It wasn’t fashion. Diesel made denim fashionable. “Premium will become important, because premium is more real and less expensive than luxury denim,” he says. Now, with its headquarters in Molvena, Italy, Diesel is present in around 80 countries, with 5,000 points of sale, and had a turnover of €1.3 billion (around Rs7,579 crore now) in 2009. The hardest nut to crack was the US. How do you take denim to a country that took denim to the masses, is the birthplace of iconic denim brands such as Levi’s, and then sell it at a higher price?
“No one accepted our price. We would sell jeans at about $62-64.” Their first licensing agreement with an American company had to be terminated because it started manufacturing cheaper denim. The second one went bust because the company it partnered with went bankrupt. “I don’t know if I was being brave or stupid but I decided to keep the employees and start over. I called friends for advice and apologized to old customers. I couldn’t afford any more mistakes,” he says.
In 1992, they came up with the Diesel for Successful Living advertising campaign. The campaign made a mockery of American advertising, which promised to improve your life. Rosso says he is a big fan of irony and the Be Stupid campaign is only the latest in a series of advertising campaigns that have pushed the envelope. “At that time, all the advertising looked same. Our campaign came as a shock to everyone,” he says.
The US market was unexplored territory then. So is India now. Although there are many Diesel loyalists in the country, buying their perfect fit while travelling abroad, premium denim is still an alien concept for most. How can he justify a price tag of $500 for something that’s available to the Indian consumer at $50? “If you bring 10 different jeans from different brands right now I can show you so many detailing Diesel has that others won’t. You will continue to discover them many months after buying them,” he says.
He lifts his shirt to show me the double belt loops, one each for a big and small belt, and then points to droplets of white paint, a detailing done by hand. “The finishing inside, the kind of treatment that goes into making a pair, every piece is different. We have special machines to do our hip. It is not straight but like this,” he says, making a half-moon in the air with his finger. “It’s difficult because you have to train people to work in a different sort of way. It gives you more volume and the butt is…”—he explains the rest with his hand gestures.
Rosso and Mehta hope to open seven stores in India this year and 22 within five years.
Over 30 years have passed since the brand was launched, but Rosso and Diesel continue to remain relevant to their target market—the youth. He says his biggest strength as a businessman is innovation.
“Stupid sees things as they can be and not as they are,” says a poster from the Be Stupid campaign. Rosso says he could get ideas from anywhere. “When I am on the Web, when I am talking to you, could be in the restaurant, in the disco, in the street, anywhere. I take pictures and I read 200 magazines from all over the world,” he says.
He makes sure that he and his employees have a lot of fun. Rosso divides his free time between his farm, playing football and doing yoga. “I go to pubs, disco, drink, enjoy and in other free time, I am also making sex. I am very social, no?” he says, laughing. He has six children with his ex-wife and lives in Bassano del Grappa in Italy. He has people who have taken over the finance and logistics of running the company, leaving Rosso free to work in the creative space.
For someone advocating being stupid, what is the stupidest thing he has done? “So many. First, to have a name like Diesel. Now it’s cool, but in the beginning, for a clothing line to be called that, was not. To decide to enter the US market. And to decide to make all Diesel stores different. It’s easy to make it same like a chain, but this is my way to run business,” he says
Sunday, 16 May 2010
Just a quick ASTANA LUMAYAN update. I have finally signed that all important Sales & Purchase Agreement (SPA) over the weekend :)
Thanks to the ever helpful legal team of Sharmin Pang Ong & Partners for their efficient and friendly service. Now just waiting it to be stamped and hand delivered to me in next few days for the next stage of the process i.e. securing financing. Wish me luck guys!
Wednesday, 12 May 2010
Weekly Facebook fashion index: Diesel tops most popular jeans brands
Relaxnews // Tuesday, 4 May 2010
Two months after the marketing company Stylophane first set up its Facebook fashion index, the ranking for jeans brands has almost entirely changed.
Diesel, which thanks to its much-talked-about Be Stupid campaign counts more than 400,000 fans, has been added to the index and now tops the list, followed by Levi's, Guess, and DKNY. Brands targeting younger customers such as Miss Sixty, Pepe, and Miss Me, follow suit.
Labels specializing in designer denim, such as 7 for All Mankind or Hudson are still far behind with figures below 10,000.
1) Diesel (407,178 fans)
2) Levi's (299,305 fans)
3) Guess Inc. (215,437 fans)
4) DKNY (106,634 fans)
5) Miss Sixty (90,435 fans)
6) Pepe Jeans (78,919 fans)
7) Wrangler Western (78,022 fans)
8) Miss Me Jeans (53,842 fans)
9) Guess by Marciano (40,454 fans)
10) Energie (34,476 fans)
Sunday, 9 May 2010
Source clip: http://ningbaizura.110mb.com/
Alternative clip: http://www.ning-baizura.com/
Behold the new sizzling single from Ning Baizura: MAMA PAPA, the lead single from her first Malay album in almost 6 years, tentatively under the working title ‘PENCARIAN’. Produced by uber hit maker Audi Mok, this truly amazing and refreshing club banger is just what the diva needs to announce to the world that not only she’s back in the game in top form, but is ready and roaring to rock your world! In her own words: “Tunes like my first single Mama Papa and Propaganda (and English track) are more upbeat and current in arrangement with a singability that is for the younger set."
Currently airing exclusively at Hot.FM, lets us all request and vote this song to the top of the charts.
ps: I am just soo pumped up for her new album. Waiting anxiously for June.
Monday, 3 May 2010
Last Saturday i took the afternoon of to send some documents and most importantly, settle the remaining 10% of the purchase price, leaving me very much in the poor house for the rest of the month huhu… :(. But I figured its better to paying up now while I still have sufficient necessary funds. With soo many temptations around, both in town and online, you would never now what I might have splurged on! I guess that from now on, financial discipline is of the utmost importance: not one of my best attributes though, sigh.
Anyhow, with that out of the way I am now ready for the next stage of the house buying process i.e. the signing of that ever important Sales & Purchase Agreement (SPA). The developer indicated that it would be ready by mid-May the earliest. So, if all goes according to plan, I can then proceed to apply the staff loan to settle the balance of the house price. Wish me luck guys…
Of course while I was there, naturally I visited the Astana Lumayan show house for the nth time, just to have a glimpse of what my dream home would look like come 2013. However, this time I have managed to take some sneak pics, before the pesky guard reprimanded us (‘tak boley ambik gambar ye encik’ katanya). Thus, here are most of the rooms on display, sans the living room. Hmm, I have a feeling Ill be staring these pictures for quite some time onwards, hehe…
ASTANA LUMAYAN CONDOMINIUM
FLOOR AREA: 1,207.94 sqf
APARTMENT SPECIFICATIONS (INCLUDING ADDITIONAL UPRGRADING WORKS)
Structure : Reinforced Concrete
Walls : Brick / Reinforced Concrete
Roof : Metal Decking
Ceiling : Entrance, Dining Area, Living Area, Bathrooms, All 3 Bedrooms – Plaster Ceiling; Others - Coat On Concrete Slab Asbestos. Free Ceiling Boards (Top Floors Only)
Windows : Natural Anodized Window Frame With Clear Glass Panel
Doors : Main Entrance - Solid Decorative Door Panel; Living - Aluminium Frame Glass Sliding Door; Others - Flush Door
Floor Finishes : Living Area , Dining Area, Kitchen, All 3 Bedrooms & Entrance – Homogenous Polished Tiles (600mm x 600mm); 2 Bathrooms, Balcony & Dry Area – Ceramic Tiles (200mm x 200mm)
Lockset : Quality Locksets
Wall Finishes : Internal Walls - Plaster/Skim Coat & Paint; External Walls - Plaster & Paint; Kitchen & 2 Bathrooms - Ceramic Wall Tiles at full height
Sanitary Fittings : Wash Basin (2 nos); Soap Holder (2 nos); Toilet Roll Holder (2 nos); Shower Rose (2 nos); Water Closet (2 nos); Big Tap (2 nos); Dry Area - (Water tap including outlet)
Electrical Points : Lighting Point (18 points) with additional lighting points (excluding fittings) to suit the design of plaster ceiling being proposed; 13A SSO Point (17 points); Ceiling Fan Point (6 nos); TV Point (1 nos); Telephone Socket Outlet (2 nos); Air Conditioning Point (2 +3 points) complete with drainpipes and neon switch ; Water Heater Point (2 points)
Others: Grill & Awning Works
CONDOMINIUM FACILITIES & AMENITIES
Green Technology Applied
- Solar System
- Rain Water Harvesting
Security - Come home to a secure living space and peace of mind for you and your loved ones.
- Security Guards – 24hrs
- Access Card System
- CCTV System
Clubhouse - Indulge in the convenience of having almost everything at your doorstep.
- Swimming Pool
- Hotspots - Free Broadband Internet
- Grocery Shop
- Cyber Cafe
- Children's Playground
- Function Hall