Stockholm syndrome – Varon Magazine

An enigmatic leader, an all-encompassing design portfolio and a no holds barred brand: no wonder we’ve joined the cult of Acne.

Stockholm: 1996. Four creative friends spot the growing trend for designer denim and gift 100 of the world’s most influential fashion players a pair of their unisex jeans, and thus a Swedish style revolution begins…

Sounds simple enough, though the way in which Jonny Johansson’s Ambition to Create Novel Expressions, or Acne for short, permeated through the menswear landscape and changed the way men thought about high-quality basic pieces shouldn’t be underestimated. Cast your mind back to the days khaki cargo trousers were still permissible; Acne blew into town and exploded the notion of what a contemporary label could be. Exceptionally cut denim was at the core of the brand, but it brought with it a plethora of irresistibly cut t-shirts, chambray shirts and clean-lined chinos that altered the way in which men thought about their day-to-day wardrobe. Bridging the gap between the high street and the high fashion powerhouse brands, Acne has reconfigured the hierarchical standing of mid-range labels and ensured its covetable aesthetic is recognised and desired the world over.

Acne applies the same innovative approach to every facet of its brand. Take Acne Paper, its bi-annual magazine that’s about to launch its 14th issue. Using a theme as its starting point, from youth to education, it steers clear of gauche brand communication and features a myriad of other labels in its fashion spreads. The clever trick here is that by inclusion the label exudes utmost confidence in its place in the pantheon of lifestyle brands and has secured a following in its own right. In its latest issue, ‘Manhatten’, the paper includes profiles on Alex Katz, Martin Scorsese and Salman Rushdie, and has three separate covers featuring New York icons, writer Fran Lebowitz, artist Richard Serra, and dancer Mikhail Baryshnikov. The celebration of such wide-ranging cultural figures encapsulates the magazine’s diverse approach and puts a seismic gap between any promotional literature that rivals concoct.

Collaboration also runs through Acne’s DNA, with previous design partners including Lanvin, Husam El-Odeh and Bianchi Bicycles. The label plucks its partners from an artisanal pool so it’s no surprise it turned to storied Italian brand Borsalino to create its panama hats for SS13.

Jonny Johansson and Head of menswear Christoffer Lundman signalled a return to denim for their SS13 offering and brought the label back to its roots with a workwear infused collection that nodded to its past. In previous seasons the Swedish juggernaut had veered away from the fabric that helped make its name, but here the stiff denim suiting felt progressive, with the oversized contrasting with more restrictive pieces.

In the show notes Johansson explained, “Starting with the idea of contrasting workwear, tailoring and sportswear the men’s collection clashes the sartorial with more casual silhouettes.” Prison-bar thick stripes shrugged off any feminine candy-striper connotations and broke the collection up with a bold, graphic motif. Expect metallic brogues to seep into the fashion subconscious and as if by magic, or at the very least a healthy waiting list, appear on the feet of world’s most stylish denizens.

Touch bearers of the Swedish aesthetic and the only Scandinavian brand to attain high fashion recognition on the world-stage, Acne has become a byword for directional minimalism. In the World of Acne innovation is king and long may it reign.



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