Imagine the following: you are a volunteer for six days to help produce a show at New York Fashion Week. You have been working day and night and sitting front row next to supermodels Coco Rocha and Gigi Haddid; this was my life. I had the opportunity to be a volunteer for Navia Vision who was responsible for the production of the Diesel Black Gold fashion show. I was able to see and help out in the production stages and with the styling of the collection before the show. The fashion show took place on February 18, 2015 on Wall Street, where I had the opportunity to receive a free ticket and see all the work come alive. Being a fashionista this entire process was a dream come true. I wanted to make the most from this opportunity; I was able to observe and take in as much as possible. The most thought-provoking aspect that stood out to me was the use of the color black. Diesel Black Gold had an all black facet that was incorporated in the show, which astounded me. Growing up wearing the uniform blue Diesel jeans I always thought that this brand was for the masses rather than for a niche market. If I were to walk into a diesel store it would be full of colors and patterns that are not present today. Hence, why I used two authors, Dick Hebdige and Simmel to understand the phenomenon of the color black and the subculture that made its way into fashion.
While walking into the Wall Street event space, I realized the grandeur and significance of the event. Four check-in counters were set up with a list of invite only guests attending. Once I checked in with the other volunteers, we were escorted through a lavish door, decorated with flowers and the company’s logo. On the right side of the venue, photographers were gathered to interview celebrity guests and take pictures. The left side was set up with the massive runway surrounded by fancy chairs decorated with white cloth. After observing the set up of the location I was able to see the celebrities and guests that were present and what caught my eyes was their wardrobe. Black attire was the general consensus and everyone seemed they belonged in this environment. The images below demonstrate this as the guests have similar styles and types of clothing all in black.
The “About” page on Diesel’s website describes the brand’s style to be the ultimate “rock chic for those who understand that style has nothing to do with uniformity” (Diesel Black Gold). This statement can be described through Dick Hebidge’s argument about “ideology” in his book “Subculture: Meaning of Style.” The theory of ideology can be explained as a system of ideals and “common sense” that the world understands (11). It is the unconsciousness that people have within themselves that people are not aware of as they are “images and concepts who act like structures” (Hebdige 12). Ideology is a theory that our society has; they are a set of ideals that are agreed upon by the masses. For example, imagine a man walking down the street wearing all black, ripped clothing, with a bunch of tattoos and piercings. Our ideological mind will force us to think a certain way and we will unconsciously be scared of that man. Throughout history black clothing was considered to be something our ancestors tended to stay away from. Ideologically, the color back was associated with themes such as mourning, evil, death and mystery. Hence, this color was never worn by society on a daily basis until certain subcultures arose. On the other hand, subcultures can de defined as a small group of people that all have similar styles and beliefs. Thus, this subculture is a group that does not agree with our ancestor’s ideology of wearing black. Hebdige describes the creation of subcultures such as “punk,” “glitter-rock” from youth. Being inspired from this style, Diesel Black Gold decided to make a sub-company in order to target the “rock-chic” subculture to earn new profit. This subculture has been increasing since its existence in the late 1960’s. Diesel wanted to invest in this niche society because they believe that it is a market that is going to keep expanding in the coming years. Having spoken and heard an interview with the creative director, Andreas Melbostad, had with Style.com I was able to get more insight on his vision. He explained how he wanted to “tweak his customer’s closest staples- the Moto Jacket, the Black Plants, the Studded Anything ”(Sherman). This was supported by the designs I saw on the runway on the day of the show. They were all black but many pieces also contained silver studs on jackets, bags, and pants. Studs have this connotation of being rebellious and having this feeing of being untouchable. When this style first arose, it was by lower class youth who wanted to rebel, however the creation of this Diesel Company and their motto of being “rock-chic” demonstrates how fashion has expanded through the different classes.
The love for the color black has given Diesel the opportunity to create its own brand for this subculture. According to Simmel’s article “Fashion,” fashion is able to unite and segregate people from the same subculture. People who dress alike are part of the same group that also help the rest of the world understand what group they identify with. Moreover, Simmel argues that fashion is a “trickled down” process, meaning fashion moves from the upper class down to the lower class (542). People with the most power have the ability to start a new trend, which then filters its way down to the rest of the population. Once it reached the lower class, the privileged changed it because it became a common commodity through imitation. However, in the case of the black “rock chic” culture it is the opposite. This subculture arose from the lower class that the elites started to copy. Diesel was already an established brand that only the high class could afford when they started their Diesel Black Gold brand. This was also proven by two very famous models Coco Rocha and Gigi Haddid were present wearing the brand and adding their own personal style. They both wore an embellished jacket with silver studs. In order to get celebrity advertising the company gave both women a personalized jacket to wear specifically to the show. This was done by Diesel to increase brand awareness and the fact that it would attract fans of the two supermodels to go out and buy the same type of clothing. Both are young supermodels with a big fan base that are teenagers. Making their fans easy to advertise too and in turn increase the brand’s popularity.
Working for the Diesel Black Gold fashion show was an incredible experience where I got insight and experience. Authors, Dick Hebdige and Simmel’s theories and ideas were used to explain this event. Ideology is used to explain that the color black has had a negative connotation in the past until the “rock” subculture arose. Today, the “rock” fashion has become so popular amongst the masses that Diesel created a sub-company. Simmel’s theories are argued in the sense that in today’s day and age fashion is not just created by the upper class but also from the lower class such as this subculture that is imitated by others.
- “Diesel Black Gold.” Diesel Black Gold. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 Mar. 2015.
- Hebdige, Dick. Subculture. the Meaning of Style. London: n.p., 1984. Print.
- Sherman, Lauren. “Diesel Black Gold Pre-Fall 2015 Fashion Show: Runway Review – Style.com.” Style.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 Mar. 2015.
- Simmel, Georg. “Fashion.” American Journal of Sociology 62.6 (1957): 541. Web.