Acne's Fashion Evolution
With its signature jeans, colourful leather separates, oversized outerwear, chic evening dresses with minimal detail and free from embellishment plus those all-important, instantly recognizable ‘ugly’ shoes – Acne is a designer brand that inspires cult-like devotion among its fans.
Started by 38-year-old Jonny Johansson in 1997, with three friends, it was a creative collective with the idea of making any number of categories of products, rather than a fashion label. ‘We didn't want to participate in fashion in the first place,’ Johansson explains. ‘We wanted to be on the outside. But, of course, you end up in the heat of it eventually.’
Along with cool furniture, gismos and gadgets and their digital branding, one of their earliest projects was to create 100 pairs of unisex jeans. They were featured in Swedish Elle magazine and soon, Sweden's leading boutiques wanted to carry the characteristic jeans with bright red stitching. The name is an acronym, for 'Ambition to Create Novel Expression'.
As the brand was run as a collective, Jonny oversaw the fashion ranges, and, for a while, designed the menswear with fashion designer Ann-Sofie Back handling the womenswear. Subsequent designers include Frida Bard, and menswear by St Martins graduate, Christopher Lundmann, but it is Johansson that oversees, and, at London Fashion Week, who takes the bow at the end of the catwalk show.
Acne doesn’t advertise in the traditional way, but rather promotes it’s wares through word of mouth, events at its terrifc stores in Stockholm, Copenhagen, Paris and London and its conceptual magazine, the Acne Paper, filled with both fashion, culture, art and ideas as well as the best photography, ranging far beyond the remit of simply showing off their own brand.