In an effort to upgrade its core brand, Diesel ( will suspend apparel production at its Diesel Style Lab division and transform Diesel Style Lab into a footwear brand.

The change takes effect starting with the s/s 2005 season.

The company said that the new Diesel Style Lab footwear will be produced directly by a Spanish subsidiary and that the transformed brand will offer only innovative, high-research pieces.

The suspension of Diesel Style Lab apparel is a direct consequence of a three-year-long program spent upgrading the core Diesel brand, which now offers higher-quality products made with materials such as cashmere and superfine cotton jersey.

Consequently, prices for the core Diesel collection have increased. For example, a pair of Diesel jeans used to have an average retail price of about 129 euros. Now they cost about 179 euros.

Diesel also recently reduced its distribution network from about 10,000 sales points to about 5,500 thousands sales points. Its 265 worldwide standalone Diesel shops continue to be an important part of that network, however.

To further stress its more upscale approach, Diesel also announced that its collection will make its New York Fashion Week debut in February. In previous seasons, the company showed the Diesel Style Lab collections, not Diesel, in the Bryant Park tents.

– Maria Cristina Pavarini, Senior Features Editor