Glenn Martens’ Diesel: from Resort ’24 avatars to Gen Z and sustainability
This month saw the release of Diesel’s Resort 2024 collection, captured on digital avatars. The campaign shone a light on simplicity and gender fluidity while embracing the brand’s roots of utility fused with form-fitting silhouettes. Since Glenn Martens’ Diesel SS22 collection, the first designed by Martens, the brand has seen a major resurrection. This new collection certainly is another step towards solidifying Diesel’s return.
SS22 certainly made an impact and was eagerly anticipated due to the trustworthy hands (and mind) of Martens. Part of what made his first campaign for Diesel so successful was the fresh feel and experimental approach he took with each garment, a style Diesel had never done before. Keeping in mind the “happy, optimistic and sexy” brand philosophy, the collection nodded to the OG Diesel days of quality denim, but this time, with sustainability and a modern edge.
But, how did Martens bring Diesel back from the fashion graveyard? Rather than trying to insert Diesel into the trends of today, Martens took the brand back to its heyday. The creative director reintroduced the Diesel “D” logo from the early 2000s and from there, the brand became a recognizable name once again. Today, Diesel continues to champion its celebrated Y2K style while infusing the sensibilities of today’s fashion community.
One of Diesel’s biggest fans is slow fashion content creator Rebecca-Jo Dunham-Baruchel. “Martens has breathed life into a beloved brand,” she says. “He is doing a great job of staying true to the brand’s roots while bringing the brand into our current age. The collections have an air of the future while referencing notes from the past. The exploration of the brand’s identity as an iconic 90s and Y2K brand during the revitalization of the trend cycle is a perfect reference to the brand’s history. I love Glenn Martens’ work.”
Before Diesel, Martens was housed at Haute Couture label Jean Paul Gaultier. The designer was also the first assistant to Y/Project creative director and founder Yohan Serfaty until his passing. Martens’ move to Diesel meant he was tasked with something no one had previously been able to do: returning the brand to what it once was while bringing something new and exciting to the table.
Martens’ introduction of the Denim Library Capsule is now a permanent addition to every collection, featuring denim attire made of sustainable materials. This sustainability practice exemplifies the brand’s commitment to move with the times and remain environmentally conscious with designs meant to last a lifetime.
“Gen Z is such a politically aware generation that demands change. If brands don’t try to create real change through the art of fashion, Gen Z won’t engage with the brand. People are tired of performative celebrities and brands that don’t take a stand on issues that affect us all. It is deeply woven into Diesel’s heritage to be a brand that pushes boundaries, it’s only suitable for the brand to continue to do so as it evolves. Much like the social and political climate of the 90s, I believe that Diesel’s aesthetic has a place in modern fashion and I can’t wait to see how Martens continues to evolve Diesel’s aesthetic as aesthetics shift,” says Dunham-Baruchel.
Founded in 1978 by Italian fashion designer Renzo Rosso, Diesel is a clothing brand known for its jeans and for being the first to offer vintage denim worldwide. During the 2000s, Diesel rose to prominence for its trendy low-rise jeans and captivating campaign imagery. It screamed sexuality and rebellion with provocative campaigns that resonated with a frustrated youth generation dying for human connection. As the years went on, the brand remained at a standstill and even filed for bankruptcy in 2019 in the United States due to financial losses and bad investments.
The downfall of Diesel can be attributed to two main failings. Firstly, the brand failed to keep hold of its fan fanatics of the 00s. As consumer tastes began to shift away from sex-driven aesthetics and towards preppy attire, competitor brands kept on top of the trends, while Diesel struggled to translate its image and move with the tide. Staying true to a brand image doesn’t automatically equal bankruptcy, but this coupled with the company’s massive investments of $90 million in physical stores as online shopping and Amazon stole the show left the brand struggling to keep up and was ultimately left behind.
Fast forward to now — Glenn Martens’ Diesel rebranding strategy has propelled the label back into the high-fashion scene. Who else is here for it?
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