Remember your first pair of jeans? The first pair you treated like a dying aunt, and constantly paid visits to, hoping that the next time you went back they'd still be there. Denim is a big part of many people's wardrobes, but this wasn't always so. The blue cloth was a factory worker-favourite during the second world war because of its sturdiness and its resilience to grease, sweat and long repetitive hours. Since then it has become a fashion must. As a protest against primness, pin curls and domestic goddess conformity in the 1950s, jeans became a symbol of rebellion. (Some movie theatres in the United States even refused patrons who wore them.) But by the '70s and '80s, the denim trousers became more acceptable, even popular in part because of stone-washing techniques. And in the '90s, premium denim was born. And that's where denim is now: at the intersection of constantly improving quality and preserving its rebellious roots. With this combination comes Diesel, one of the pioneers of premium denim. At its inception in 1978, its founder and owner Renzo Rosso envisioned a label that epitomised passion, individuality and self-expression. In the mid-90s, Diesel was one of the first brands to introduce fashionable denim at the then unheard of price of HK$800 and up. The brand set the bar. And only after people saw the luxe washes and finishes, put them on and looked good, did they understand why they cost that much. This also made way for the dozens of premium denim brands such as 7for All Mankind, Paper Denim & Cloth, and JBrand that cropped up around the turn of the millennium. Federico Tan, head of marketing for Diesel Pacific, described Diesel's attitude in one word: Rebellious. 'Let's say we have a style of jean that is doing very well. We're the kind of company that will then say, 'Let's change it'.' For this summer, the Diesel designers, headed by creative director Wilbert Das, conceived a collection based on a time in life where rebellion is significant, even welcomed: university. Though, this time, the brand is updating the preppy collegiate look with new silhouettes and current fabrics. Surprisingly, one of the best-selling summer items for Diesel in Hong Kong has been its collegiate-style cardigan. Though the humidity would make sweaters seem impractical, they are a sensible item to pull out when inside overly air conditioned office buildings. The cardigan has the quintessential striped armband, but Diesel has put its stamp on it via graffiti-esque pencil doodles. Other fresh combinations include: shorts with smart off-the-shoulder tops, and braces with baggy gym pants. 'If Diesel pairs a bow tie with a checked shirt, it's going to be a bright orange bow tie with a longer, leaner shirt,' said Mr Tan, explaining the brand's method as: 'Not so clean and proper.' By offering up a deconstructed varsity uniform in a mix of '50s form and '80s rock 'n' roll, Diesel teaches style conformists a lesson in individuality. 'If you were to ask Renzo Rosso, he would say that Diesel is for everybody because everyone has a unique edge to them,' Mr Tan said. 'Diesel is for someone who has their own personality and wants to showcase that.' To go with these alterna-prep styles are slim jeans. Favourites for women include the Louvely, a straight-leg, slim fit with a higher waist (spotted on Kate Moss), and Matic, a tapered-leg, very skinny style (but not too skinny, as curvier women such as Rihanna and Alicia Keys have rocked in them). For men, consistent favourites include Viker, a straight-leg, slim jean that flatters various body types, and Thanaz, also a slender cut. In the fall, Diesel will continue with its rebellious ways: by challenging the global recession with Diesel Denim Gallery, a collectible hand-stitched jean line with prices at more than HK$6,000 a pair. 'We've been waiting for the perfect time to introduce it,' Mr Tan said, referring to Diesel's strategy of first opening the Planet store in Central and then gauging consumer preferences. The consensus? 'We found that a lot of people are buying our highest quality, more expensive products already.' Also for autumn is Livy, jeans made specifically for Asian women. The Diesel designers created a slimmer cut with a slightly higher waist, which is purported to make legs appear longer and results in a lengthier, leaner profile. Furthermore, men should expect slim fits to relax slightly with the Poiak jean. The model has a lower waist, a fit that's less snug, and zippered back pockets. Diesel will also be introducing new styles in its footwear category that put a spin on conservatism. Dress(ier) shoes will be available for men. Although, Diesel isn't making proper shoes by any means: they are lace-up shoes, but with treated leather. Diesel is also continuing to push forward with its other ventures: Black Gold, the brand's high-end collection which made its runway debut in New York in February of last year; Diesel-U-Music, an international search for unsigned artists unable to break into the corporate music labels; and a new home collection called 'Successful Living From Diesel'. Diesel derived its new home collection's name from its provocative ad campaigns in the early 1990s, 'For Successful Living'. 'In 2008, we went back to our original Diesel slogan: 'Only the Brave',' said Mr Tan. 'We want to be a brave company.' And these days, especially, this attitude is essential.