Stefano Rosso, CEO, OTB, participated in Decoded Fashion Milano (see previous coverage here) and presided the jury of the Fashion Pitch contest aimed at selecting innovative start-ups in the digital fashion business. Rosso started working at Diesel in 2005 in different areas of the company. In July 2011, he started working as director of corporate development of OTB, parent company of brands including Diesel, Maison Martin Margiela and Marni. Since 2013 he is CEO of the OTB Holding. In 2013, OTB group registered €1.57 billion sales, 70% of which came from Diesel. Interview by Maria Cristina Pavarin

The winner of the Fashion Pitch contest will also be awarded with a one day visit at OTB Group. How will this happen?
The winner will meet me and my father Renzo together with the managers of our “Innovation Area” division in the headquarters of our company. These young talents will be able to explain how their project is structured and works and will get feedback and suggestions from us in order to get the best out of their initiative. Eventually we might also try to find ways to collaborate or support their project.

Your group is often involved in side activities that often support young creativity and new entrepreneurial projects. How do you benefit from that?
Through our Red Circle Investments, the investment company of our family, we can also focus on alternative businesses that are not so strictly tied to the specific core business of our group. Looking beyond fashion gives us the opportunity to also concentrate on other companies and other business aspects that can help our group develop, find new inspiration and tools that might also eventually be poured into our core business activities. Most significant inspiration often arrives from new technology and apps that are tied to the fashion world but not necessarily only from that [(*) see editor’s note]. We are also partners of H-Farm, a digital start-up incubator aimed at helping young entrepreneurs in launching innovative internet startup initiatives. Made Up is a new app developed inside H-Farm which is participating in the Fashion Pitch contest of this edition of Decoded Fashion Milano.

What are the next plans for the holding and for Diesel?
Our next plan is supporting John Galliano who recently joined Maison Martin Margiela. He needs all of our support and encouragement in order to bring ahead the course of Maison that for various years has been focusing on its non-identity element since Martin Margiela has not worked on it for some time. Since both, we at OTB were looking for a designer and Galliano was looking for a new opportunity, we decided we could start this new direction together. All novelties will be disclosed in January 2015 within Paris haute couture shows.
Speaking about Diesel our focus is to maximize Nicola’s strong creative impact and present it to the consumer through both a hyped retail experience and an impressive product development in a consistent and clear direction. Through our holding we have the opportunity to work with some of the most interesting and creative design talents and this gives us the opportunity to see fashion from different angles –Nicola Formichetti, Dean and Dan Caten, and many others.

How can you harmonize working with so many different personalities?
There’s no need they agree with each other. We are happy that everyone does what they can do best.

(*) Editor’s note: in January 2014, through Red Circle Investsments, OTB had acquired a quota of EcorNaturaSì, organic vegetable and fruit retail specialists; in 2013 they entered Depop (see coverage here), a smartphone app to sell personal goods, and Fubles, a European “social sport sharing” soccer network.