DIESEL 5D: Denim’s Enfant Terrible Enters its Fifth Decade

Officially released today by Rizzoli and edited by blogger and journalist Susie Lau, 5D: Diesel, Dream, Disruption, Deviation, Denim (2019) revisits the cult brand’s denim-paved path through the fashion world – from the popular postwar American jean that inspired founder Renzo Rosso, to the advent of the high-end offshoot lines that expanded the Diesel empire into luxury markets.

Lau’s curated mix of past campaigns, “lessons,” interviews, and ephemera is complimented by original contributions by contemporary creative outfits – including 032c, recruited to create eight group shots highlighting Diesel’s archive and new collection through 40 years of subcultures, including skaters, punks, 1990s club kids, vintage revivalists, and logo maniacs. The long-standing vitality of Diesel, 5D explains, is a collective effort, fueled by the intimacy that ties the brand’s symbolism to its audience. Many of those interviewed are employees, fans, or creative collaborators – Martens, Shayne Oliver, Gosha Rubchinskiy – who have been instrumental in the label’s constant self-reinvention, which has taken place seemingly without much concern for media and market hazards. “We made what we liked, what we wanted to wear, we were the first consumers of what we created,” says Rosso of the consumer magnet’s wild card approach to everyday style.

This “alternative” narrative has been integral to the fabric of the brand since the 1970s – the Diesel name itself comes from the alternative fuel popularized during the 1973 oil crisis. In textiles, a similar role is played by the brand’s original motor: denim, a material in which Diesel still releases 50 new designs and washes every year. When the jeans started to come pre-washed, sometimes ripped or perforated, initially people returned them thinking they had bought a damaged product. The confusion was quickly resolved, and before long the $100 price tag was puzzling to no one – except, perhaps, to the parents of some younger customers. Diesel, equipped with its famous red logo, pioneered high-end streetwear via pre-destroyed products with higher-than-American denim prices, and a brand mystique that preceded the clothes themselves. “Diesel had a creative community,” Rosso explains. “Our fans wanted to be part of this movement. It was a way to talk with a difference but not in an arrogant way.”

5D: Diesel, Dream, Disruption, Deviation, Denim is published by Rizzoli (New York, 2019).

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