How to Stand Out Against Competitors

Running the parent company of Marni, Maison Margiela & Diesel has taught Renzo Rosso a few things

Renzo_Rosso_Collective_Hub_Martin_SchoellerImage by Martin Schoeller


Fashion moves quickly and no one knows that better than Renzo Rosso. The 60-year old president of Only The Brave (OTB), the holding group that controls some of the world’s most influential brands like Diesel, Maison Martin Margiela, Viktor & Rolf as well as Marni, is always thinking outside the box: after all, he’s got fashion houses with generations of brand recognition to stand out against, season after season.

Considering the group’s total revenues – which include his manufacturing company, Staff International, that specialises in product development, production and distribution with a slew of iconic brands like Marc Jacobs Men and Marni Men – are in excess of €1.5 billion and his net worth as published by Forbes is an estimated $3.3 billion, he’s doing a pretty good job of it.

Here are some of his business insights for staying ahead of the pack.



[It’s] nice if they have a heritage because with a heritage, you can see a lifestyle. Normally, a new brand is a little bit more difficult and when I go to see this new brand, this new company, it’s important to see that the product that they are creating is a modern product. I want to see the modernity in what they are doing because we have to think far ahead and whether through my developer, I can create new, fresh energy for it to become even more modern.



I can’t really compete with them because they are very big, they’re giants. They have an incredible quantity of money that we don’t have. The way that I can be in competition with them is just with freshness, modernity, coolness, beauty and desire. To create more desire is the key. We aren’t very big, we cannot have stores everywhere in the world like they can because in the end, this big brand can buy everything – they can buy the advertising – so they really control everything. The only way to survive is to not work in the same direction because there they can be winners but we really just do our own thing.



I got lots of magazines and cut out all the advertising from all the other brands. I stuck them up on the wall and then I turned around and you could move the heads from one brand to the other and you couldn’t see a difference. Most of them at the time were in black and white, so I did the opposite. I did ours in colour.  Secondly, I wanted to put some kind of irony to get people to think and be amused, because I like humour.  When I work with my people, I work in a fun way and the same thing must be part of [our brand] communication.



For me, it’s the simplicity. [I have learnt to] stay with my feet on the ground, to respect people in general, the honour of a handshake with you today is like to sign a contract. I am not arrogant I think, I don’t think I am snob, I’m just a simple man that worked with patience. I love what I’m doing. I never worked a single day in my life for money and with the same attitude I teach my people to work, to love what you do. [Also] pay attention and be present in the conversation.


Renzo will appear as a international guest speaker at the 2016 Business Seminar as part of VAMFF on Friday 11 March 2016.




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