The managing director of Diesel’s kidswear business tells Eve Oxberry about its direction for spring 10 and its John Galliano licence
How did you get into kidswear?
I’ve been at Diesel for 25 years, since it was born in 1984. Then 10 years ago [founder] Renzo Rosso decided kidswear needed to be given more importance. He predicted that every young fashion brand would expand into kidswear to extend its market reach and I was there at the right moment for that. And we’ve grown fast: in 1999 Diesel Kid was worth €14m (£11.9m), and we closed 2008 on €75m (£63.8m).
What are the major differences between the European and UK kidswear markets? The Italians and French spend a lot on the way their
kids look; the UK less and Germany practically nothing. Our top five markets in profit order are Italy, France, the UK, the US and Japan. We’ve lost sales in Italy because Europe is in recession but I see a reversal of that quite soon. Some brands will be forced to close and we will get stronger. There’s always space for creativity, whatever the economic climate.
You’ve brought the kids’ footwear licence back in-house for spring 10. What are your plans? It was licensed two years ago and when that expired we decided to take back control because product development hadn’t been great. We now have almost 200 pieces in the line, whereas four collections ago there were only 45, so we see it as a big growth area.
What direction are you taking with the rest of the kidswear range?
I want to bring it more in line with the adult range. It’ll be strong on denim with more colours and washes and the collection will be more directional. When we were planning spring 10, Renzo Rosso decided that, as everybody was talking about recession, we would push colour to cheer people up. This season we have more than 80 denim styles, which I think is more than any other kids’ line. We are very balanced between the number of pieces in our boys’ and girls’ lines but are more recognised for the boys’ range, so we
are pushing the girls’ collection more. We’ve brought in some interesting prints including tie-dye and florals. We’re also bringing in more dresses and skirts to make the girls’ range more feminine and ensure it has its own voice. The theme will always be rock ’n’ roll and music – that’s in our DNA.
Are you changing the way you work with your stockists in these tough times? Now is a time to be extra careful with distribution. We need to make sure our stockists know exactly who we are and what we offer. The strategy of the 1990s, where brands would sell to a client then leave them to it, has gone. Competition is tough so we have to be more collaborative.
Will you be looking to do collaborations with other brands? We have started to look at taking on more licences, but only with brands that are complementary to Diesel. We have
a licence for John Galliano kidswear which has been very successful so we would look to do similar tie-ups. I think within six months to a year we will add some other brands to Diesel.
What city do you visit for inspiration? I always see lots of innovative and exciting kidswear when I’m in Tokyo and all over Japan. There are some great brands out there.
Which brand collaboration do you most admire? I think Stella McCartney designing for Gap Kids is a great fit. When you get two strong brand names such as those it can be very successful from a business point of view.
Which UK retailer do you most admire? Topshop has been very clever in its links with big names such as Kate Moss and by its timely linking of youth trends with film and music.
- Germano Ferraro is managing director of denim label Diesel’s kidswear line Diesel Kid