MILAN – Diesel presents a new hero sneaker as part of an “intense repositioning” of the brand which, according to General Manager Massimo Piombini, “touches all variables, with the aim of bringing back the freshness of the brand such as it was seen a few years ago. “
Called the Prototype – the name reflects a new beginning – the unisex sneaker is an innovative new design from creative director Glenn Martens for spring 2022.
It is graphically striking with repeated rubber straps and asymmetric lacing. In addition to the angled textured rubber bands and off-center laces, the sneaker features an industrial outsole and molded rubber overlays on its upper.
The sneaker category has historically been a solid business for Diesel, also “given that it is complementary to the brand’s staple denim products,” Piombini said. But the company approached the division “in a more meaningful, serious and structured way,” creating a new business unit led by a veteran of Puma and Adidas. “He has formed a whole new team in charge of product development, design and marketing, working with new suppliers and completely revamping the collection. “
While the prices have been increased by 10-15% in line with the repositioning of the brand and the increase in the quality of the materials, Piombini also believes that Diesel’s sneakers are competitive as they sell for between 130 and 300 euros, the prototype selling for 350 euros. .
The sneaker was teased in Diesel’s Spring 2022 video shown last June and Piombini said the entire collection has performed well, with sales orders increasing 25% in volume and 45% in value.
Diesel also partnered exclusively with neuno.io – a starter platform aimed at becoming the luxury NFT marketplace – to recreate the design of the 3D prototype as an NFT.
The NFT prototype will be shown on November 23, but it was offered to all attendees of the annual NFT.NYC conference, which was held in New York in early November. The Limited Edition NFT Prototype was created by digital fashion house The Manufacturer.
The physical shoe will begin to be available from next month in Diesel stores around the world and through the brand’s e-commerce. Additional color options will be removed in February.
Diesel has 150 single-brand stores, 150 dealerships and 150 franchises around the world. Online sales represent 30 percent of the business, with 15 percent direct and 15 percent indirect. “We are reviewing our online assets to be more rarefied and more qualified,” Piombini said, noting that more capsules will be delivered specifically designed for the online channel.
Piombini has reorganized the company, including its retail and wholesale channels, since joining in late January Balmain’s last year. Prior to Balmain, the executive spent over a decade at Valentino as Commercial Director and previously worked for other luxury brands including Bally, Bulgari and Gucci.
Despite the negative impact of COVID-19, the pandemic “has partly accelerated restructuring. I always say that we made four turnarounds at the same time, by changing the organization, by changing our economic model; rebuild the marketing process in line with the ambitions of our new projects; the introduction of a new managerial structure with new teams and a design reversal with Glenn Martens.
Paris-based Martens, who is also the originator of the Y / Project brand, is known for his reconstructed denims and avant-garde silhouettes and is responsible for overseeing style, communication and interior design at Diesel. In fact, the company is considering new showroom and store concepts, Piombini said, adding that Martens was working with Berlin architect Niklas Bildstein Zaar.
Martens was first selected in 2018 as guest designer of the experimental capsule series Diesel Red Tag, a year after the designer bagged the prestigious ANDAM Fashion Award, of which Diesel parent OTB is a historic sponsor and mentor.
Diesel has not had any renowned talent at the helm since Nicola Formichetti left in December 2017 after a four-year tenure as artistic director.
With Martens on board, Piombini believes Diesel has an advantage by offering denim, which has long been its core business. “It’s a new way of making denim, more fashion-oriented. Everyone makes denim, but Diesel is special, ”he said.
Piombini admitted that the arena is “very competitive and crowded”, but Diesel has “a more disruptive positioning” and innovative treatments, materials and cuts.
With Martens, the ambition is to have “a different visibility”, and to “start again from denim to reposition the brand. Our inner mission is to be the most forward-thinking denim brand on the planet, not the biggest or the most important, ”said Piombini.
He also pointed out that Diesel is “restarting in a more efficient and flexible manner”, adding that the company had “absorbed the decline in sales in 2020”, which “had no impact on the balance sheet”.
Diesel is a core business for OTB, accounting for over 50 percent of sales last year. Founded by Renzo Rosso, OTB also includes Jil Sander, Maison Margiela, Marni, Viktor & Rolf and a stake in Amiri, as well as the production arms Staff International and Brave Kid.
The company is also working on a new website and its e-commerce was revamped earlier this month.
Piombini said the “Second Hand” products launched earlier this month, a project that is part of the brand’s sustainability strategy called “For a Responsible Life” unveiled last year with consulting firm Eco -Age, were exhausted. “Sustainability is fundamental to us, and an original value, not a marketing ploy,” he stressed.
New stores have recently opened in Turin and Kyoto, which will help indicate the new direction of retailing as it is critical to identify the new target of consumers in the next five to ten years, Piombini said. “We had lost track of who we were talking about, we have to redefine the audience, where do they buy,” he observed.
“Historically, we are very strong in Europe and Japan, and we are rebuilding the United States,” he explained. In April of last year, the company appointed Patrick Valeo as the new CEO of Diesel North America, succeeding Stefano Rosso.
Diesel also has a new CEO for Asia Pacific, Annie Ho.