Thursday, March 1

Diesel Knock-off on Canal Street


Every week in my marketing class at NYU, the students bring in an example from the week that they’ve observed in marketing. It’s always a fun class discussion.

There was an especially great one this year, especially if you’ve ever worked in fashion.

The Diesel brand did a pop up installation off of Canal Street in Manhattan featuring merchandise that appeared to be knockoffs. If you’ve ever been to that part of Manhattan, then you know it’s infamous for being able to find knockoff merchandise of major fashion labels. Louis Vuitton bags being just one example.

Shortly after the installation opened, the brand announced in social media that in fact this was authentic Diesel fashion items and the place instantly lit up. Of course, being Fashion Week in New York didn’t hurt the instant attention!

The best part? Notice that the brand even misspelled it’s own name...Deisel! Brilliant.

What I like most about this marketing tactic is that it confronts head-on one of the most serious issues in fashion...protecting your designs and your trademarks. It’s nearly impossible, and in this bold move Diesel proved the validity of owning your own work.

Tiffany brand recently went through the issue when it won a lawsuit protecting the term “Tiffany Setting” for diamond rings. The brand argued that they own that term, and I would agree! Others can still sell the design, but they can’t call it a “Tiffany Setting” unless it’s being sold by Tiffany’s.


And just a few years ago, Louboutin shoes won the right to one red soles on women’s heels. Not an easy feat (!) when many other fashion brands were also incorporating red into their designs. But the brand won the right to exclusively use their color red on their soles.

These arguments are not easy to win by any means. The fashion business is loaded with one brand insprining another, that’s for sure. So protecting your proprietary designs is nearly impossible. Diesel put that right out there, right at Fashion’s biggest moment of the year, and I think it was quite clever.

What’s your experience? JIM.

And BTW...is it just me, or did Fashion Week come and go so quickly this year that we hardly noticed? And I live in New York! Maybe it’s just me...

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