It is not a fashion brand in the strict sense, it does not faithfully adhere to the imperatives of the market, it does not try to communicate a specific lifestyle, it does not join the trends of the moment, it is not a minority but neither Mainstream, although it parades in Paris and has hundreds of points of sale. To explain what Acne Studio is and how it works, it’s easier to list what it isn’t. As if it were something abstract, intangible, and yet its clothes and objects are, another idea visually defined for 25 years as hackneyed as it is elusive: what it is to be modern in the present moment.
Its founder and creative director, the elusive Johnny Johansson, is one of those increasingly rare totems whose influence is inversely proportional to its media exposure. Build a list of prescribers in the area, but prefer your brand to speak for itself. This is attributed to the fact that for some years, Half the Planet worshiped the Swedish style as a paradigm of Kiss. cold (And that many other brands imitated his example), however, he does not see it this way: «Fashion is not what I love the most. I try to soak up what I see, at my own pace, at times even against my initial thought. And it doesn’t always work”, he replies during this conversation in the back room of the brand new campus on Rue Saint-Honoré in Paris. In fact, the brand name responds to the acronym. ambition to create novel expressions, And was born with a collective business.
In his debut, he designed interiors, created exhibitions and was even in charge of art direction of various publications. By 1997 he had designed 100 pairs of jeans which became a matter of desire. He condensed the idea of modernity that took off on each project, in an economical and exclusive way. Acne gradually became a fashion brand, but it didn’t lose that spirit: «It is fashion because it is a wonderful vehicle to capture the culture of the moment: music, art, literature… we always keep it in mind. Keeping work, we don’t know any other way to do it,” he says. This line of work has allowed him to achieve something nearly impossible: to invoice close to 300 million euros per year and a Considered to be the cult banner, a name that is modern and not a symbol of a quarter of a century later. Johansson has been successful, in part, thanks to acne paper, The lifestyle magazine she launched twice from 2005 to 2014 became an absolute fetish for all the fashionistas. So much so that today their numbers multiply 10 times their value on resale. Even I don’t keep all of them. A few years ago on a trip to Japan a guy came to tell me he had collected them, but another was missing. I sent it to him not knowing I couldn’t change it,” Johansson explains. Now those iconic pages are back in a collector’s anthology book, acne paper book, which anticipates the magazine’s return next fall. “It will be different but at the same time, because times have changed,” he says.
what did it mean acne paper within the brand? Did that help make it relevant?
It is our jewel, our pride. Thomas (Person, editor of the magazine) and I wanted to show who we are, our way of looking at fashion, through the people we admire. It was a way of describing what we meant by fashion.
They had great photographers, but also great designers. It was not common for a fashion brand to review its competitors (it is not common even now)…
Well, it’s about reflecting culture, and culture is not a brand, it’s a mix of expressions. We want to document the times by talking about secondhand, other firms, other issues… reflecting everything contemporary to us.
They go back to paper when all fashion brands are obsessed with digital, is paper too contemporary?
it is always. I don’t disapprove of digital, it’s important, but the content is yours, that’s yours, that you can review and enjoy in another way. My biggest treasure is my library. Or my vinyl. Of course I listen to Spotify, but when I want to recreate myself in a song I put on a record and listen to the groove noise. This is another form of craft. And the same happens with fashion.
From the outside, it looks like Acne Studios’ success is due to going against the rules of the market.
I don’t know what the market rules are right now.
Logos, more information in networks, corporate content, celebrities …
Well that’s all, because you love R&B right now, you won’t stop listening to classical music, right? Over time I realized that I didn’t want to be a pond, I wanted to be a river, and to keep flowing you have to make sacrifices and reject certain things. The idea of being contemporary at work still haunts me, because life is something else.
And how do you define current fashion?
As for diversity, a mixture of very different things that had no place in recent years.
in what form?
the other day i saw the collection Support by Louis Vuitton and you might like it more or less, but that someone like Ghesquire does it means that for the first time in a long time we’re going to start putting design above all else, through clothing To re-express things, their patterns, the ideas they hide… beyond logos or t-shirts with specific trends.
Haven’t you been doing this for a long time? This practical, but very aesthetic design, known outside Sweden as Swedish style.
It is really a mix of factors. In Sweden we value craftsmanship and history, but also innovation. I think we like the middle ground, yes.
In fact, she was one of the few who didn’t succumb to the idea of creating functional clothing. What’s more, their new collection is a celebration of ‘being at home’ but from another perspective.
Yes, I was lucky to have peace in my house, and I enjoyed it. I’m one of those people who think that deep down we’ve learned a lot, and that fashion will also have a kind of new beginning. It is now when culture becomes important.
Is that why they re-edit the magazine?
Of course. The time has come to do this kind of work.
How do you want people to define Acne Studio on Time?
I don’t know, I guess I’d like someone to say about me that I knew what the present was about.
Don’t you think you’ve already got it?
No, don’t believe me. I haven’t made it yet, but I’m still working on it.