Thursday, September 12, 2013



What was the name of that damn show, prisoners on an island and if they tried to escape these huge balloons would come out of the water and push the guy back. British. The Prisoner! That’s it, had a cult following that I never joined. That’s what I was reminded of, walking through Union Square. Inflatables on the northern tip, promoting #DIESELREBOOT.

Diesel, the jeans company, casual sportswear. Didn’t they first appear in the 1980s?

A beautiful young woman, dressed in black, ray bans, long black hair, younger than half my age of course or just about, handing out brochures, which I had to ask for, she was not about to give them to someone so outside the target demographic.

“Diesel. The jeans company?”

“Diesel Reboot,”  she says. “They’re launching the brand.”

“But the new brand is Diesel Reboot, not just Diesel.”

“Yes.” She was barely paying attention to me.

The balloons were colorful, different sizes. Large pillows were people relaxed. Compelling photographs decorated the spherical inflatables. I wondered what the new lines look liked?

“I think I bought a shirt of theirs like 20 years ago. Where are pictures of the clothes.”

“The what?”

“The clothes. What are the new clothes like. I don’t see any pictures of them on the balloons.”

“We don’t have pictures of the clothes. We don’t have any of the clothes here at all. This is Diesel Reboot creative.” She gives me a severe though not unpleasant I’m from the beautiful people world and you were born before Ronald Reagan was president look.

“Can I take your picture.”

“No, I’m working.”

“But it says that anyone here should be prepared to be photographed or filmed.”

“By us.”

“It’s just that you’re really pretty.” What a snobby glance, what a bemused supercilious smile. She walks away and I continue taking pictures. I don’t think I was the first person in her life to compliment her beauty. I took her picture anyway, but after she walked away.


I used to write about fashion, probably just before this young model was born, it was one of my earliest writing gigs. It was fun. Clothes are an expression of cultural trends and a projection of your self; yet they are garments, perform a function so whatever expression they exhibit is not a deep thought. They are by definition frivolous yet they are on the frontline of any potential first impression, even if the person getting that impression you may never see again.

 The fashion world has changed, back then there were mainly independent retailers, and they started the trends, they featured designers. Now it’s the large department stores and designers like Diesel have either their own stores, cutting out the middle man, or set up lucrative deals with bigger middle men to have their min-boutiques within big retailers.

Designer brands are important, but they are more about quality now than status. The cache of wearing the label and having that label seen lacks the cultural significance it once did.

Except for people within the fashion world, and they can still be snobby and out snob any one per center. That’s because most designers and apparel movers and shakers come from the working class and aspire to be noveau rich. The superficiality is so distinctively spectacular, it’s pointless to notice. You’re young and beautiful and those clothes look beautiful on you but what wouldn’t at your age with your looks, which fades just like dreams but now the dream is real.

In addition to the balloon display in highly trafficked Union Square, #DIESELREBOOT is all about the social media. Facebook is so five minutes ago, just Tumblr, instragram and twitter.


From the brochure:

Destruction = Creation

What Have you Destroyed Lately?

This was the question posed by Nicola Formichetti to his vast network of social media followers for the third mission of #DIESELREBOOT, his viral relaunch of Diesel.


Using Tumblr to reach a community of young creatives… blah blah blah

Right, maybe the cache of wearing designer clothes will return, maybe a generation will discover the shallow status of designer clothing. Some of them have to be vapid and/or look good in the new brand.

Why sell the clothes when you can sell the brand? Or sell the brand first.


So, there’s a contest for the new diesel, a kind open-source campaign that seems to echo the Occupy movement of two years ago.  One of the requirements to enter reads thusly:

“2: Post an original photo of your favorite work of art in the #DIESELREBOOT Installation.”

Okay, so installation is an artsy word, but I love the idea that a photo of an existing work of art becomes an “original photo” but then again the apparel world invented knock-offs. Is a picture of a knock-off more original than the knock-off?

I love the reboot term too, which is from nerd culture – comic books. Hey it worked for Superman this year!

 Call me old fashioned but I still think fashion should be about the fashion not just the concept of fashionable. Clothes should be about clothes, not status. I know I’m not in the demographic they are marketing to, but I wonder if millenials think in terms of designer names when it comes to clothes. Can an apparel brand achieve the status of an I-Phone or Xbox? In spite of the marketing veneer of social media being cutting-edge and ultra-contemporary, the core question of designer status I wonder about. Price and quality seems more important to this new generation than status – and other issues like green and now worker rights, pro-safety and anti-slave label, both issues ignored by the #DIESELREBOOT balloons. Consumer culture is our current form of capitalism and that hasn’t changed but consumer tastes have. Marketing can only do so much no matter how clever and cutting  edge.
Nonetheless, she was pretty, the balloons were fun and the bright sun shone down on Union Square Park like summer might stay forever.

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