From the iconic 1DR ‘it’ bag to tongue-in-cheek Fashion Week runways, Diesel has made a comeback beyond just the region: indeed, Diesel has been the talk of the fashion world for two years now. This is not a coincidence. Under the new leadership and creative helm of Glenn Martens, the denim label has infused innovation, playfulness, and sexy into their designs. In the words of Martens, these pieces are made to feel “as if you woke up in it the night after a fabulous party”.
Diesel’s fresh ethos was most prominent in the SS23 show in Milan, where not only did the label break the Guinness World Record for the largest inflatable statue, but they also pioneered Diesel democracy, an idea that fashion should be accessible to anyone, anywhere. Staging the runway in a 5,000 person capacity stadium, Diesel gave free tickets first come first serve, in order to provide a “spectacle” for those who have never been to a fashion show. Yet, while Diesel might be thinking in terms of largeness, from design to runway, sustainability and responsibility are at the core of Martens’ vision. “The biggest challenge ahead of me here is being aware of the responsibility we have speaking to multitudes, being engaged in society and making sure you can accelerate the change you want to see regarding social but also environmental sustainability”.
Injecting new life into Diesel from every angle has not been an easy feat, and Martens seems to be excelling. We caught up with Glenn about all things new at Diesel, from the SS23 show to his personal inspirations, and how to live a Diesel-approved successful life.
By Ethan Dinçer
Hi Glenn! Thanks for speaking with us. Starting off – talk to us all things Diesel at Milan Fashion Week. What were your ideas in creating the SS23 collection?
We’ve worked hard to make the experimentation with the pieces shown on the runway as affordable as possible, because there’s an audience around the world that’s asking for it right now. It’s fun, it’s loud, it’s disruptive, and it’s really the beginning of this reboot of Diesel. We’re inviting this new audience to be part of the change. Everybody can be part of Diesel.
In the new collection, we are pushing deeper into our major Diesel storylines. There’s Diesel as iconic denim brand, Diesel as utility brand, Diesel as pop and Diesel as experimentation.
From Diesel ‘democracy’ to the Guiness World Record-breaking inflatable statue, the show was definitely one to remember. What drew you to construct the show like this?
As you pointed out, Diesel is a democratic brand and we wanted to open it up to the public. The show took place in this massive stadium with a capacity of nearly 5,000. When the free tickets went online on 1 September, they were gone in 90 minutes. Lots of people who’ve never seen a fashion show before attended, so we wanted to give them a spectacle. We’ve broken the Guinness World Record for the largest ever inflatable sculpture bringing a message of optimism and inclusiveness in front of everyone that can’t be ignored. A unique voice and undeniable icons for the culture of today.
Can you pick a favorite look from SS23?
All of them! Difficult to select one!
It’s only been two years since you’ve been leading Diesel. What’s changed for you since then?
The responsibility of being at the head of such a big brand talking to so many people and producing so many garments a year, comes with it of course with knowing what globality is today: fashion is a big player in all major global issues. It’s not just about making beautiful clothes anymore. The biggest challenge ahead of me here is being aware of the responsibility we have speaking to multitudes, being engaged in society and making sure you can accelerate the change you want to see regarding social but also environmental sustainability.
“Diesel is fun, it’s sexy, and it’s also socially responsible – it’s all the same energy”
The 1DR bag has become an instantaneous ‘it’ bag of the past year. Were you expecting it to shoot up in popularity so quickly?
The 1DR bag – which comes in two sizes, medium and super small – is straight forward, easy, sexy, genderless and fun which, in the end, are exactly Diesel’s key values, we really compressed the brand’s DNA into accessories.
What are you looking forward to for next season? Can you give us a little insight into what we can expect?
The power of the brand is that you can talk to so many people. Diesel is fun, it’s sexy, and it’s also socially responsible – it’s all the same energy. It’s how young people are today, they party, they push life to extremes, and they stand up for their beliefs, for their community. This is what “for successful living” means to me, one thing I wish is that we can keep on growing and doing what we do and be more and more directional.
Final question – who and what inspires you?
I always create with the intention of encouraging individual expression. Whether it’s pieces fitted with pliable wire seams or tops with multiple neckholes and sleeveheads, I’d love to think of my clothes like they were made to be paraded on the street; to be seen in.
Bruno Pieters was a mentor back in the 2000, he was definitely one of the most conceptual esthetic designers. He balanced out the first totally transparent and certified luxury fashion brand, inspiring many other designers to start design in a more conscious and sustainable way, which is something I am also taking over at Diesel.
He can be considered my spiritual descendant. I love to create deliciously weird, yet undeniably chic classics we see today – tailoring, knitwear, and denim curving and folding around the body as if you woke up in it the night after a fabulous party.