Enclosed in a large glass case at a recent event in Miami's trendy hotspot Barter, a row of white T-shirts hung neatly on a gold rail as onlookers like Paris Hilton and Charlie Sheen glided past. Prices range from $1,049,000 to $5,500,000 corresponding with each of the 143 garments on display.
The tees themselves, designed by fashion brand Diesel, obviously aren't extravagant enough to warrant such a hefty price tag. The high prices instead offer a glimpse into the brand's ambitious new project: real estate. At the aforementioned party, guests were celebrating the sales opening of Diesel Wynwood condominiums, the Italian company's collaboration with real estate developer Bel Invest.
When you buy one of the uber-expensive T-shirts, you get an actual apartment for free. Each tee is emblazoned with a floor plan of an actual unit from the Diesel Wynwood developments, which begins construction in April 2020. Prior to the festivities, which were held during the Art Basel, the brand held a media preview of its new condos, where guests got to experience the upcoming building through a VR headset.
Andrea Rosso, creative director of Diesel Licenses, helped spearhead the project alongside his father Renzo Rosso, president of Diesel parent company Only the Brave. The duo held court at the preview, located close to where construction will take place in Miami's Wynwood neighborhood. Wynwood, a former industrial district, is a popular hangout spot for hip, young crowds and is most known for its colorful murals.
"The finishing of the chair, the graph, the material, the used effect, the fading effect, it's a lot of Diesel," said Andrea of what makes the condos inherently on brand for them. "So everything that we do, we do it with a lived in effect, lived in purpose, almost as if it's already there for a long time. We don't offer shiny, new product, but we offer a product that is already lifelong. So with the industrial touch and also with the pop color, we give the right shape, also."
It's just the latest manifestation of the Diesel universe, which in the last few months has seen the brand embark on collaborations with Coca-Cola on a recycled collection, release a new book tracing its 41-year history, and continue its ongoing Red Tag project with designers like Samuel Ross of A-COLD-WALL* and Readymade. The label was also pulling double-duty during Basel week, as they also hosted a pop-up that runs until December 30 with streetwear boutique Bodega.
While the brand's roots lie in ready-to-wear, real estate is a different beast. Renzo was not fazed, however, and describes the latest challenge as a natural extension of Diesel's way of living. "I love the living concept because before, you could show who you are just from clothing and the lifestyle of the clothing. But now you spend more time at home because you can work with your computer from home. So if you're working more from home, you still want to feel who you are through the interior design, not only the clothing. Home is becoming an expression of your personality."
Diesel Wynwood T-shirts and units are available now for pre-sale.