On July 20th, the Polimoda Rendez-Vous series hosted legendary Italian fashion entrepreneur Renzo Rosso, founder of Diesel and president of OTB group, interviewed by WWD Fashion Editor Alessandra Turra.
Born in the province of Padua in 1955, Renzo Rosso created his first pair of jeans at the age of 15, founding the game-changing global brand Diesel less than a decade later. His vintage-driven alternative product has revolutionized denim, making it a staple of modern-day wardrobes and propelling it into the world of luxury.
Today Rosso is the president of OTB, the parent company of fashion brands Diesel, Maison Margiela, Marni, Paula Cademartori, Viktor & Rolf, state-of-the-art company Staff International (a symbol of ‘Made in Italy’) and childrenswear producer and distributor Brave Kid. A true force to be reckoned with, the 2017 revenues for OTB exceeded 1.5 billion euros.
In 2008, Renzo Rosso created the Only The Brave Foundation, a not-for-profit organization set to rebalance social inequality and contribute to the sustainable development of less advantaged communities around the world. Based on simplified project selection criteria – innovation, direct social impact and sustainability – the foundation has invested in about 200 social development projects, benefiting the lives of over 180,000 people. Committed to social initiatives, the Rosso family also financed the restoration works of the Rialto Bridge in Venice, its first complete restoration since it was built in 1590.
Linked by the common thread of innovation, Rosso’s projects and investments extend far outside his core business. Through the family company Red Circle Investments, he was among the first investors of YOOX Net-à-Porter, is partnered with digital start-up incubator H-Farm as well as EcorNaturaSì, the leading Italian producer and distributor of organic food products. The denim mastermind is also a producer of top-notch Italian wine and avid supporter of football teams AC Milan and hometown Series C L.R. Vicenza Virtus.
Unique and daring, iconic and innovative, Rosso stirred the crowd to think deeply about the future of both the industry and planet. During his lecture, the fashion mogul delivered precious insight on his personal and company history, touching on the group’s mission of challenging conventions and fostering creativity to channel a new breed of consumers.
My advice for you is to find inspiration in the streets, have as many experiences as possible: explore the world, because the more information you have, the more you open your mind, the more incredible you can become. Be creative, be crazy, try everything, make mistakes. Mistakes will teach you what to avoid in the future; you won’t be able to evolve without errors. But above all, own your life. It is through the choices you make that you can become who you are destined to be.