The Swedish fashion brand Acne Studios is a multi-talent when it comes to connecting communication and design. That’s no surprise, because their roots lie exactly there.

-Regina Henkel

This year, Acne Studios is celebrating the 20th anniversary of its widely respected, iconic fashion line, which started 1997 with exactly 100 pairs of jeans. In the following years, the brand has diversified and upscaled its product offering, expanding into a wide range of ready-to-wear categories, including knits, footwear, accessories and outerwear for women and men. Today, the brand is still owned and operated by its founders, delivering to
650 global accounts in 66 countries and about 50 Acne flagship stores – many of them owned by the
brand. It’s obvious; Acne is s successful member to the fashion world. But there is another truth that is not that wellknown. Besides the fashion business, Acne also stands for many other kinds of products and creative
services. Acne Studios is a well-respected creator of magazines, books, furniture, films, kids toys and exhibitions, too, working for brands like Hermes, Volkswagen, Audi, Burger King, Nike, Ikea etc. The

Besides the fashion business, Acne also stands for many other kinds of products and creative services.

graphic and design agency Acne has been established 1996, one year before fashion came into the minds its founders, and no one from them derived from the fashion business. So, when the fashion brand was born, it was somehow predetermined that the communication will play an important role for its further development.
Coming from the world of advertising and communication, it was always the aim of Acne to go different ways than the masses. Not only in terms of the fashion collection. Acne Studios merges the aesthetics of art with fashion without a compromise: Acne selects different types of models,






who represent more personality than superficial beauty; they choose new perspectives and strange settings for their campaigns. Their stores all look different, rejecting a recognizable retail design, and their shopping bags are pink – also for men. Even the brand name Acne, which actually stands for “Ambition to Create Novel Expressions”, has become distinctly hip, although it is otherwise known as a common skin disorder. Everything they do seem to polarize. Why? Mikael Schiller, one of  the two owners, said in an interview: “We had this
idea: Not to explain everything to everybody.” So the Acne collective keeps doing what they find interesting, without delivering a comprehensible concept. 2005, Acne launched its bi-annual magazine “Acne
Paper”, carrying forth the ethos of the brand. Far from fitting the conventional stereotypes of most
fashion publications, each issue is created around one idea: a theme big enough to appeal to everyone
interested in the arts, regardless of their age or their culture. The paper portrays interesting people from
other parts of the culture industry like film and theater, different generations, from a painter from
the 18th century to present actresses, like e.g. Liv Ullmann.

“We wanted to start again and look at denim with fresh eyes”

Most interesting: Acne Paper is not an advertizing magazine in the classical sense, but takes its editorial approach serious. Even if it shows Acne pieces, it also covers products from other fashion brands. Globally renowned and respected among fashion and design enthusiasts, the paper has collaborated with some of the most distinguished names in the worlds of photography, art, fashion and culture from David Bailey, Alber Elbaz and Tilda Swinton, to
Mikhail Baryshnikov, Fran Lebowitz and Richard Serra. Blue Art or in Swedish “Blå Konst” is the name for Acnes new denim strategy, which has been launched this year. Instead of many styles and many different washes, the brand replaced its entire range of existing denim products with new permanent styles, complemented by the launch of a new seasonal denim collection. “We wanted to start again and look at denim with fresh eyes,” Mattias Magnusson, the company’s CEO, told in an interview. “If you look at the wider market, brands are launching lots
of washes and styles that look more or less the same. You try to be everything for everyone. So we say that
these are the styles and washes we think you need.” Finding your own style, your own customer, your
own message and stay true to it is the summary from 20 years Acne Studios. It’s about making a difference, establishing an own personality which doesn’t have to fit to everyone’s taste. R.H.

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