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The Evolution of Acne Studios’ Menswear
“Ambition to Create Novel Expressions”. That’s what the ‘Acne’ stands for in the Swedish creative studio’s name, and many would agree that it lives up to its name.
Best known as a fashion house, it has attracted a worldwide following for its whimsical designs grounded in Swedish modernism.
Under the creative direction of Jonny Johansson since the brand’s inception in 1996, Acne collections tend to be quite unpredictable, swinging between minimalist fashion that is expected from a Scandinavian brand and daring, adventurous designs.
The first pieces of clothing the brand developed was a line of 100 pairs of jeans with distinctive red stitching, which were a big success. However, when faced with financial trouble, Jonny was advised to focus purely on jeans and t-shirts.
Instead, he decided to dive headfirst into high end fashion. Without a formal background in fashion, Johansson has taken risks and found his footing along the way. His lack of experience might just be his winning card- if you don’t know the rules, chances are you’ll break them, and fashion loves a bad boy.
Johansson’s collections are inspired by his Swedish upbringing, the countryside, or just about anything that tickles his fancy. For example, his menswear Fall 2017 collection was inspired by Keanu Reeves ’swollen face’. It doesn’t get more random than that.
This unbridled creative approach doesn’t always work out, but when it does, it’s a feast for the eyes. Especially in the last few years, the brand has come into its own, progressively evolving from a sober aesthetic toward a new era of maximalism.
This departure strikes a chord with the contemporary desire for self-expression, especially among younger generations post-covid.
While the womenswear lines typically draw in more attention, today we break down the most memorable collections from Acne Studios menswear.
Don’t get me wrong, some seasons, including Spring 2012, Fall 2014 and Fall 2017 were very well-executed, serving up chic, refined clothing. This list, however, focuses on the more avant-garde collections.
Marking Acne Studios’ menswear runway debut, this capsule collection was said to cover all bases for a full summer wardrobe. It had one foot in the Swedish countryside and the other in a 70s club, with an androgenous medley of jersey shirts, leather dungarees and slim fit suits.
While it was a little plain, it told a story by tapping into Johansson’s personal feelings of nostalgia. Not bad for a first collection.
An exploration of Anglo-masculine themes, this collection played with English staples, subverting classic looks with the brand’s own twist. Barbour-style waxed jackets were made oversized, and the soccer shirt trend was reinterpreted through knitwear.
From the waist up it was all traditional manliness, while below the belt there were many leggings and skirts. Scarves reading "Gender Equality," and “Women in Power” tied together the collection’s theme: discarding conventional ideals of manliness.
This collection should have been called ‘My Favourite Things’ because Johansson just took things he likes and mashed them together.
Based on his passion for guitar, a surfer that he met, and the New York Dolls, it translates into a surprisingly wearable collection, fit with baggy rompers, tight fitting knit dresses, wavy prints, and a retro colour palette.
In another blend of disparate elements, the best way I can describe this collection is if you go to a farm with your friends and you all take magic mushrooms.
You see casual and formal elements, and a myriad of textures and colours, all coming together for a strong visual appeal.
Utilitarian work boots, elegant long coats, leather trousers and bohemian fringed ponchos come together in one happy modern family.
The Bright orange cow print pieces are absolute head turners alongside metallic snakeskin combinations, but the best piece had to be the trousers with semi-detachable pockets.
Inspired by a hotel in French Basque country and the quirky personalities that stay there, the diverse looks in this collection ranged from soft bohemian to reimagined military uniforms.
It’s fashion forward without trying too hard, and there is something for everyone. In fact, it looks like a snapshot into what young adults are wearing today.
Exploring the way people change their look when they travel, Johansson has most recently presented a very editorial looking collection.
This may be his most gender-fluid offering yet, featuring a soft pink theme throughout, long skirts and off the shoulder tops.
His love for denim was resurrected with undyed denim jeans that were printed with a collaged patchwork of his own vintage pieces. The whole thing is loud and eye-catching, and a little slice of Gen-z heaven.
Johansson’s penchant for gathering inspiration from multiples sources and his indifference to colouring inside the lines means you can expect something new and exciting every season.
The collections sometimes lack a clear unifying factor, but for most people it doesn’t matter if the individual outfits or pieces are appealing.
If you’re into avant-garde, exciting, slightly over the top, gender fluid fashion then Acne Studios keeps getting better every season. If you’re not, then go and shop at H&M or something.
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