At Diesel, it’s all about embracing flaws and unique style

In a social-media-heavy society fueled by curated photos and flattering filters, one in which having a high number of followers appears to be everything, the Diesel label, which makes denim, accessories and footwear for men, women and children as well as home goods, has decided to go against the grain with a strong message leading its fall 2017 campaign.

This season, the brand’s messaging centers on the idea of “Go With the Flaw.” The slogan informs campaign imagery, a film and a collaboration with Chinese pop star Chris Lee.

The messaging isn’t surprising considering the 39-year-old Italian brand is well known for controversial advertising and provocative communication. You could say “Go With the Flaw” urges people to embrace imperfection and uniqueness rather than conform to the Facetuning and glossy veneers of Hollywood.

“Diesel has always challenged conformity,” says the brand’s founder, Renzo Rosso. “Today’s conformity is social-media perfection — perfect holiday, perfect pictures, perfect life. In the past, when we were the first company to do a campaign with two sailors kissing each other, that was, at the time, the conformity to challenge. ... I have always been more interested in imperfection because it stands out from the crowd, and it’s more real.”


The brand has also released a campaign manifesto that includes the lines, “Go with no plan, go with not sure, go with what makes you feel insecure. Go with mistakes, go with remakes, go without knowing if you have what it takes.”

In a show of commitment to the message, Diesel, according to a news release, “decided to delete everything [from its Instagram feed] for an imperfect, new beginning.” The brand’s 1.2 million followers appear to be sticking around, and a series of “imperfect images” have popped up on Diesel’s Instagram feed.

The “Go With the Flaw” campaign started with a party and fashion show in Beijing. That’s where Lee, the androgynous Chinese singer, was present to show her collaboration with the brand, and she appears in ads that read, “Go With Square Face,” a reference to Lee’s square jaw and what she has said sets her apart from traditional Chinese beauty standards.

“Chris has a square jaw, and a lot of people [in China] have surgery for a more European look,” says Diesel’s creative director Nicola Formichetti. “She now loves it and wants it to be her signature. She’s turned her insecurity into something of power and strength. It’s about embracing flaws and making them cool. It’s a message that’s really deep within the DNA of Diesel.”

Rosso and Formichetti say that the ethos of “Go With the Flaw” will continue beyond this season.

“It’s a message that is here to stay,” Rosso says. “Moving forward, we will apply the message by exploring different flaws.”

From a design standpoint, Formichetti likens the motto to the company’s beginning in denim. “We’re rooted in denim, and denim is a product where you make the flaw of the denim into something beautiful,” says the creative director. “Denim is not luxurious. It’s not high fashion, but it has all of these great connotations because of its past and rebellious nature. In fact, Diesel was the first brand to take ripped jeans and market it to sit next to luxury brands. So we’ve always taken the idea of unconventional or strange and made that cool. We always did it, but now that we have this motto that is much more crystal clear.”

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