The Extravagant Life Of Diesel‘s Founder & Sensational Billionaire Renzo Rosso
By Sandhya Agrawal
The builder of the clothing empire and the ingenious billionaire, Renzo Rosso was born on 15th September 1955 to a northern Italian farmer. Rosso is famous for his proactive advertising, savvy retail insight, and smart business sense in developing one of the most fantastic denim and retail brands of all time – “Diesel”.
Renzo Rosso’s net worth stands at $3.5 billion, making him the 19th richest man in Italy. Interestingly, Rosso in 2012 for the first time got featured in the Forbes billionaires list.
Rising to The Fame
It was in the 1970s when he made his first pair of jeans, and they had a leg opening of 42 centimetres, and his buddies liked the jeans so much that they began requesting them.
In 1975, Rosso dropped out of the University of Venice to work at a small garment factory as a production manager. His mentor, Adriano Goldschmied, encouraged him to remain in the business, and together they established a new venture, thereby creating Diesel. The brand name Diesel was selected because ‘diesel’ was deemed the ‘alternative fuel’.
By 1985, his business associate, denim legend Adriano Goldschmied, had been bought out by Rosso. Here, Rosso introduced the concept of high-quality luxury-premium denim that looked faded and worn, which achieved massive success in the ’80s and 90s, with complete ownership of the market. Also, Diesel famously ran one of the first gay-themed commercials in 1995.
Rosso took a step back in 2002 to manage a new investment firm, the OTB Group, putting together all the labels he created with those he purchased. It included French fashion brand Maison Margiela in 2002, the Italian brand Marni in 2012, and Viktor & Rolf in 2008, all of them were headquartered in Amsterdam. In Breganze, Italy, in the countryside north of Venice, Rosso established a glittering new headquarters.
Recently, Diesel has managed to win back some of the cultural cachets it enjoyed in the past. It appointed its first creative director in 2013, Nicola Formichetti, who acquired a reputation as a stylist for pop star Lady Gaga.
Rosso maintains a house in the village of Bassano del Grappa in northern Italy, a 30-minute drive from Venice. It is home to 50,000 people, where Rosso has provided with free Wi-Fi in the area named after the business he founded.
Rizzoli published the book by Renzo Rosso in 2011, which outlines his theory, it is entitled “Be Stupid: For Successful Living”.
An avid art collector, Rosso collects and displays paintings of famous Italian artists. Apart from work, Rosso loves snowboarding, skiing, wake-boarding, and cycling.
Rosso even enjoys soccer and owns Bassano Virtus 55 S.T., his home team. When he took it over in 1996, Rosso added his birth year, ’55, to the end of the name of the club. Rosso also operates a winery called Diesel Farm, which sources grapes from a tract of land he acquired in 1994. It produces wines such as “Rosso di Rosso.” that is a play on his family name. Rosso considers it a boutique dealer and only sells the wine to selected restaurants around the world.
In 2012, the iconic Bridge Rialto, one of the four bridges over the Grand Canal of Venice, was promised to be repaired for 5.5 million Euro by Rosso. He has also funded restoration efforts to preserve the heritage of the mediaeval-era town.
Rosso is now operating an OTB charity fund, known as the OTB Foundation. It spent EUR 12 million to ‘combat socioeconomic injustice and of less-favoured areas and persons worldwide.’ About 90% of the foundation’s activities concentrate on Sub-Saharan Africa, with the remaining 10% focusing on Italy.
While the reigns of the organisation he founded have since been relinquished, the 65-year-old still serves as president of his holding company, OTB (which stands for Only The Brave, a corporate motto). It does not seem like he will slow down in the immediate future.
“I am a rock & roll man, and therefore, a denim man. Musicians of any era – whether it be The Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Rage Against the machine, or, of course, Madonna – will inspire fashion. And we, in turn, will inspire them.” Renzo Russo
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