Kickin’ onwards

Diesel Black Gold creative director Andreas Melbostad talks us through the new pre SS17 collection
By Lukas Grout | Fashion | 17 May 2016

Diesel Black Gold was launched back in 2008 with intentions of the jean brand breaking into a different circle of customers. Cleaner, more contemporary and at a higher price point, the new stance instinctively gave the sister brand an edge. But it wasn’t until 2012 that the Norwegian designer Andreas Melbostad took the reins of womenswear, and a year later became overall Creative Director of the line.

Noted for his experimentation with proportion – and with names like YSL, Nina Ricci and Calvin Klein under his belt – Andreas found, in his own words, a ‘meeting of minds’  at Diesel, describing Black Gold as ‘a different lifestyle with the same attitude’. Here, the designer talks us through the upcoming season, the pre-collection and his progressive vision for Diesel Black Gold.

LG: You studied at the RCA – is there a special place in your heart for London?AM: I love London. I think for me, I love the energy of the city, I love the people – and in terms of fashion it’s a fantastic city. You really see fashion in stores, on and the streets and it really is ‘fashion’ – compared to somewhere like the US where the department stores are perhaps more conservative.

LG: Comparatively to other cities you’ve worked in, how does London shape up?
AM: Well, London for me was very much about my study years. So as a student it was a lovely experience and I really got to connect with a great group of people. This was in the mid 90’s…so a little while ago now, but it was a really, really exciting time for fashion. Designers like Alexander McQueen and Hussein Chalayan were emerging so there was a really strong fashion moment in that period and it was a great time to be in London. It was a super defining time for me because I came from Norway and a very conservative design college, so to come to London and see that fashion could actually be so many different things, it was the platform that allowed me to work in Paris and then New York later. 

LG: Today, Diesel is a mega-brand – but for someone who has perhaps been living under a rock and never heard of it before, how would you describe it?AM: Well the founder Renzo Rosso has a very irreverent, brave, bold spirit and he started with denim, becoming famous for their treatments and aggressive fashion point of view…

LG: It was the distressed denim that put Diesel on the map, wasn’t it?
AM: Exactly, and the treated denim is still at the heart of the company, but also with leather being a very important component. So it taps into these iconic pieces of design and cultural classics, which for me is what I do with Diesel Black Gold  – which is the advanced contemporary extension of it. The price point is slightly higher, the approach to the collections are a little cleaner, it’s effectively a different lifestyle, but with the same attitude of Diesel.   

LG: What drew you to the position at Diesel Black Gold?
AM: It was very different from my background because I had come from high-end luxury, but I loved the idea of this irreverence and counter-culture at Diesel. I like that the brand can be boiled down to key inspirations, like the denim biker jacket or the military field jacket or the five pocket jean – for me it’s something I can aways look at. I really relate to this aspect of it and I love that, as a company, it’s dynamic and brave, so it’s been a real meeting of minds.

LG:You took over as Creative Director in 2013. Was your direction instinctive?
AM: It was very much about following my instinct for sure, but it was also about studying the position and studying how it relates to Diesel. I think that in the last two seasons we’ve really been able to establish something that we feel is correct for who we are – so there is a play on the references of Diesel, but we have found a new tone.

LG: Other brands have diffusion lines too, why do you think Diesel Black Gold has been so successful?
AM: I think the potential for Diesel Black Gold is that you can you have a modern consumer and product very much for today. There is a designer approach but at the same time it’s still very accessible – it’s quite democratic in a sense. So I think for me that’s something that makes it quite modern and of this moment. It’s not luxury but it carries forward some of the integrity of a designer product. Renzo Rosso has been incredibly successful building a massive brand, so to tap into that DNA and find a voice is helpful, however, on the other hand it can be a huge challenge just because it is a name that everyone knows.


LG: There has been a shift in people’s attitudes to throwaway fashion, what are your thoughts on it?
AM: For me, we want the collection to be a fashion expression, but at the same time we want it to be timeless. It’s a little bit of a play on the two, so we use a lot of what I call ‘icons’ or staple pieces, so they are very recognisable and you have all the emotions of a biker jacket or a bomber jacket, but we want to give it another reason to exist. We want people to pick up our product, and enjoy it for a long time. In my mind, if you buy a biker jacket from us today, I hope you’d still wear it in ten years time. 

LG: Diesel Black Gold recently took the women’s show back ‘home’ from NYFW to Milan – why was that?
AM: The decision to show in New York was before I joined, but at that time it was thought that this ‘contemporary designer’ market grew out of the US. It was the right platform and it represented the international aspirations of the brand – also the sensibility is very New York in terms of the product, so then it made perfect sense. But I feel like today, we’ve managed to build an identity and people are aware of Diesel Black Gold as a brand in its own right, so showing in Italy meant we had an opportunity to revitalise. From a logistics point of view it was far more practical, and in the end, funnily enough, it gave us a more international audience because of the press and buyer aspect. A couple of years ago I don’t think we would have done it because what we represent is a certain kind of product which wasn’t what Milan would have related to, whereas today, it’s very different landscape.

LG: I wanted to ask you your thoughts on the ‘see now, buy now’ attitude that seems to be sweeping across fashion weeks. Diesel is obviously in a position to be able to do something like that, so what’s your thoughts on the change?
AM: There are a lot of changes to the industry that we’re looking at, but we haven’t made any changes to the classic system. I think it’s super interesting and it’s a great moment for fashion, but it’s not easy to find really solid answers on how to do it, executing it well is very challenging. 

LG: Do you think what’s happening at the moment could almost be passed off as a tend?
AM: I mean from some level, it can feel a little bit like a publicity stunt, until you’re really able to execute it, and I think that’s been my concern. The logic behind it makes so much sense, because you see something but then find out it’s not available for another six months so by then, you’ve moved on. But the reality is super hard. It’s interesting to see people experiment.


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