The Next Step to Becoming a Lifestyle Brand? Designing a Place To Live

Diesel is the latest traditional fashion label to get into real estate — with a nine-floor luxury apartment complex in Miami.
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The scene at a party celebrating the opening of the sales center for Diesel Wynwood during Art Basel in Miami.

The scene at a party celebrating the opening of the sales center for Diesel Wynwood during Art Basel in Miami.

Somewhere along the rise of social media, as documenting and sharing the highlight reel of our everyday lives became a part of the everyday, many fashion companies shifted gears and repositioned themselves as "lifestyle brands." This goes beyond simply providing products for the 360º of a consumer's life: In order to successfully establish themselves in the "lifestyle" space, their offerings must reflect the values, attitudes and interests of their desired demographic. The brands must create their own culture — one that a shopper will want to buy into.

"Clothing, jeans, children's [clothes], shoes, bags, jewelry, watches — we've done two Ducati's, a bicycle, and we have furniture, lamps and things for the bathroom and kitchen. And our customer is becoming more demanding," says Renzo Rosso, the CEO of Diesel and president of OTB Group, the parent company to Diesel, as well as Maison Margiela, Marni, Paula Cademartori, Viktor & Rolf, Staff International and Brave Ki.

Having established this long list of products representative of a Diesel lifestyle, the company has decided to embark on the next step in this journey: a place for Diesel shoppers to live their best Diesel life, literally.

Diesel is joining the short list of traditional fashion brands that have gotten into real estate and hospitality, with its first-ever residential property — a nine-story condominium in Wynwood, the popular art district in Miami

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"More people spend more time working from home, making the home a more interesting place to show your attitude and who you are," Renzo says.

Fendi and Armani also have property in Miami: The former opened its Fendi Chateau in the city's Surfside neighborhood in 2017, while the latter has its Residences by Armani/Casa. Missoni is also working on an apartment building in the city, called Missoni Baia. Elsewhere around the globe, Armani and Versace have hotels, and the Ferragamo family has the Lungarno Collection. Bulgari has properties in Milan, London, Bali and Shanghai, with plans to open in Moscow in 2022.

Diesel Wynwood won't open for a while — construction is slated to begin April 2020 — but the brand celebrated the opening of its sales center in December, during Art Basel Miami Beach, launching a campaign centered around buying a million-dollar T-shirt and getting a "free" home. (There are 143 T-shirts total, each featuring the floor plan to one of the residences.) Diesel also threw a party at Barter Wynwood, with the likes of Paris Hilton and Charlie Sheen in attendance.

Diesel Wynwood will be "a contemporary residence where the surrounding artistic and post-industrial landscape merges with the closeness of nature" according to a press release. Son of Renzo and Diesel creative director Andrea Rosso says Miami, a city heralded for its nightlife, did play a role in the design of each apartment, specifically, its "special kind of light, especially at sunrise. It's amazing."

In terms of Diesel's partners on this venture, it appears the brand has primarily tapped creatives outside of Miami to outfit its apartments: Moroso for furniture, Foscarini for lighting, Scavolini for kitchen and bathroom, Seletti for tableware, Berti for wooden flooring, Iris for ceramic tiles and Mirabello Carrara for linens. (None of these have a retail presence in the Wynwood area; Scavolini has a store in Coral Gables, about 30 minutes south.)

When asked if there were any plans to leverage the existing creators in Wynwood and the larger Miami area for artwork on the property, Bel Invest, the real-estate developer behind the project, said in a statement: "There are indeed plans for this, however it is still being decided in the coming months who that artist (or artists) will be."

The projected price point of Diesel Wynwood’s apartments are between $370,000 and $5,500,000. (The current median sale price for apartments in the arts-centric neighborhood is around $309,400, according to Zillow.) Andrea envisions the "manager, world-traveling type" moving in to these residences. (Considering these price tags plus the building's location, Diesel Wynwood could risk fitting into a narrative — and local fear — of climate gentrification, where the rich can afford to move inland and away from the disappearing coast, in Miami.)

Paris Hilton with one of the Diesel Living T-shirts.

Paris Hilton with one of the Diesel Living T-shirts.

Diesel's pivot to real estate follows Renzo's decision to nix the brand's lower-priced apparel in 2018 (in favor of rebuilding with capsule collections with undeniably popular designers like A Cold Wall's Samuel Ross, Shayne Oliver and Gosha Rubchinskiy) and the brand filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in the U.S. in March. There's no doubt this is an interesting business move for a company going through something of a rebrand. As one would expect, there are hopes to take this show on the road — to places like Dubai, China and Milan, among others. 

Diesel seems to have its sights set on playing a role in every facet of its shoppers' lives — and that plan only starts in Wynwood. 

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