|Launching their SS10 collection of men’s and womenswear at London’s Barbican Curve Gallery, a dreamlike film, 'Untitled Film No1', by artist Katerina Jebb acted as backdrop to covetable clothing featuring silver elements designed by London-based jeweller Husam el Odeh, and opulent Swarovski crystal embellishments. “We always work towards something we call ‘art and industry’ – it’s our tagline. It’s about finding a meeting point between creative expression and commerciality,” explains ACNE’s creative director, Jonny Johansson. “We ask, ‘do you really want to be a Van Gogh – celebrated for your work after death?’ What Andy Warhol stood for is interesting – being part of pop culture, being celebrated in his own time. Our company embraces those pop ideas with everything we do – we’re playful and happy.” |
This sanguine approach to work, and the often contentious link between commerciality and art, has certainly worked in the collectives favour. Since launching in 1996, ACNE has gone from a tiny friends-based company to a Swedish institution consisting of five sections; design, architecture, music, film and fashion. ACNE also produce a directional bi-annual publication, ACNE Paper.
“We began with just four people from different backgrounds. We were very inspired by the Warhol ‘Factory’ – to create a company that did many different things rather than concentrating on just one.”
|With an ambition to create and develop their own products as well as helping other people to build brands, ACNE jeans – currently one of Europe’s key denim-lead fashion brands, began modestly in 1997 when 100 pairs of jeans were designed and distributed to friends and family. “Our jeans started off as an experiment, but then our friends picked them up and promoted them. Stylists, photographers and buyers in Sweden, and soon shops abroad, were asking us to create more,” remembers Johanssen, who also acts as head designer for ACNE higher-end men’s and womenswear collections. “When we started making our jeans, other jeans labels were all about fake vintage or over-decoration – we wanted simplicity of design, where proportion was the focus over decoration.” |
Like all other aspects of their company, the ACNE fashion label was born out of an appreciation for classic design and aspirational ‘Pop’. “We started to work with jeans because they are the ultimate fashion item… they are basic and generic, so we wanted to see if we could make something different. We chose jeans first because they are something everybody owns – they are the most simple, unpretentious and important fashion item.” A decade on and ACNE is recognised internationally as a unique and diverse, as well as commercially viable, creative collective focusing on all areas of design. With art and industry walking hand in hand, ACNE prove going mainstream isn’t always selling out.
SHOP WOMEN / SHOP MEN