Hip, urban and understated, Acne was the fashion insider’s best kept secret until recently. With their denim collaboration with Lanvin in 2009 and the opening of their London store in 2010, the secret is out and many more are clamouring for their sleek and minimal separates.
Their name is an acronym, standing for ‘Ambition to Create Novel Expression’ and the company began as a creative consultancy in Stockholm, Sweden, in 1996. From the beginning it was more about design for living and creating a lifestyle brand, and it was almost by accident that fashion became a major part of their success. It all started with 100 pairs of unisex raw denim jeans with distinctive red stitching being designed and given out to clients friends and family as a promotional move. These caught the imagination of Swedish Elle and soon they were in demand from top boutiques around Sweden. Acne followed up by designing a full collection of cool understated pieces in 1998.
Co-founder and creative director Jonny Johansson is the charismatic figure behind the brand. Despite the success of his men’s and women’s fashion lines, his design concepts and inspiration are not confined or limited within the fashion world. Acne also embraces a film company, an ultra-cool magazine Acne Paper, with articles from top names in the fashion world, and even a line of children’s toys, and recently branched out into furniture design, one of his original metiers. With a finger on the pulse of the times, Johansson manages to gauge the mood perfectly, injecting his designs with just enough quirkiness to make them recognisable, while still retaining that classic tailored elegance that forms the backbone of any fashion wardrobe.
“I focus on designing clothes that give good energy to the wearer,” says Johansson. “Our view on fashion is playful and relaxed. If I could design something that people can have a long-term relationship with, I would be very happy, I want to design a garment that makes you feel stronger and more self-confident.”
Acne’s POP Classic lines, which include their signature denim, bomber jackets and streetwise fashion, have been joined by their trend-setting, up-market and fashion-forward collections, which in 2010 took the concept of spirituality as their inspiration, with flowing drapery and crystals creating a completely different silhouette from their previous crisp lines and harder edge. Each collection showcases a new concept – for concepts are what drive Acne –sometimes classic, sometimes odd ball but always cutting edge.
In South Africa you can get Acne from ShopLabel – the online designer fashion store