Diesel makes a comeback in Singapore after 4-year hiatus

Diesel makes a comeback in Singapore after 4-year hiatus

While some fashion retailers like Raoul and M)phosis have bowed out of the Singapore market, one brand wants to make a big comeback here.

If you have been wondering where Italian fashion brand Diesel went to, it is now back in Singapore after a four-year hiatus.

The brand returned to Singapore in March this year after spending more than half a million revamping its store in Paragon mall in Orchard Road.

So why has Diesel taken this brave step to re-enter?

In an interview with AsiaOne, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Diesel, Alessadro Bogliolo, said that he knows the market here well and believes in Diesel's potential for growth in Singapore.

The 51-year-old, who took office as CEO of Diesel in October 2013, has 20 years of experience in the luxury industry. The father of two spent 16 years with Italian luxury jeweller Bulgari until 2012. He also lived in Singapore for five years from the mid-90s to 2001. During that time, he was shuffling between Singapore and Italy as Chief Operating Officer of Bulgari.

During Diesel's hiatus, the company - which has teamed up with local luxury retailer Kwang Sia to bring the brand back - used that time to design new concepts for its Singapore re-launch.

The strategies include a greater emphasis on style, investments in distribution network through expansion of stores globally, and a more selective approach in distribution.

Diesel's exit from multi-brand retailers in Europe, which the company decided wasn't in line with their concepts, helped to generate 85 million euro (S$132 million) in revenue, which in turn, created capital for the investment in Singapore.

As part of the brand's attempts to innovate and to stick to its informal wear concept, the Jogg Jeans has been introduced. Made of jeans and jersey, the Jogg Jeans provides the comfort of a jersey material while wearing denim - sounds ideal, considering the hot weather in Singapore.

The Jogg Jeans isn't Diesel's only invention. In order to cater to different customers in various countries and climates, the brand uses different fabrics for its clothing. For example, in warmer climates, fabric like cotton and linen are used to make clothing whereas in colder climates such as those in Northern Europe, the denim products come with additional fibres.

These innovative products are also what Mr Bogliolo believes will help the brand stay ahead of the competition.

What about online retailing?

"Diesel was actually the first to start online retail and e-commerce but we won't (run) a full e-tailing business," he said.

Diesel started its first e-commerce store in the late 90s. Today, Mr Bogliolo says that Diesel's online business is experiencing a "double digit growth" and growing exponentially in Europe, United States and Japan.

Despite that, he is certain that Diesel will not be a 100 per cent online retailer in the future.

"We still believe in the physical contact customers should have with clothes and the human factor," he added.

That is why Diesel also has a Denim Master Studio, where customers can create their very own exclusive demin wear. Staff would be able to assist customers in customising their clothing by adding rivets to denim pieces to create an overall edgy look.

In addition, Mr Bogliolo said that Diesel will not compromise on sophistication or quality of its handmade products for its consumers. He added that the brand is an alternative to luxury fashion products.

Crafted as a fashion brand with a focus on denim, he said that Diesel focuses on consistency and differentiates itself from "outstanding quality or classy (luxury) products which are pretentious". Instead, the brand's craftsmanship is still the key to reaching out to its customers.

As for style, Mr Bogliolo wants to retain Diesel's military, rocker style for its consumers. Although Diesel is known to be a more masculine brand, Mr Bogliolo said there will be equal emphasis on men's and women's fashion in its store here.

Given that the store at Paragon has re-opened for only two months, he said that it was too early to comment about performance but that he is pleased so far.

And is Diesel planning to expand its business beyond Paragon?

Mr Bogliolo says: "We wish to expand (the business) to more stores but keep Diesel sophisticated.

"Our aim is not to undergo massive expansion," he added.

stephluo@sph.com.sg

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