The History of Acne Studios

by Ian Duncan on December 03, 2023

Jonny Johansson

Acne Studios, born in Stockholm, Sweden, in 1996, wasn't initially about fashion. Jonny Johansson, the brand's co-founder, was an artist whose exploration into denim began it all. He aimed to create something beyond the conventions of fashion—something that fused the simplicity of Scandinavian design with a rebellious edge.

The brand's name “Acne” stands for “Ambition to Create Novel Expressions,” embodying their ethos of pushing creative boundaries. Acne Studios emerged as a denim-focused brand, but it quickly expanded its horizons, evolving into a full-fledged fashion house known for its clean lines, innovative designs, and an unmistakable artistic touch.

Acne Studios

The early years saw Acne Studios making waves with their unisex denim collections. They redefined the perception of jeans, infusing them with a fresh perspective. Their raw denim, distressed finishes, and unusual cuts stood out in an era dominated by traditional denim styles. This approach gained them a cult following and established their reputation for reinventing wardrobe essentials.

I'm really into the word “honest” in fashion. I'm trying to stay contemporary, you know, and also personal at the same time. I find sometimes fashion becomes about exoticism. I think the reality is more interesting, you know, everyday life in a way. Jonny Johansson

A pivotal milestone for Acne Studios was their foray into ready-to-wear fashion. Their debut at Paris Fashion Week in 2006 marked a significant moment for the brand. Johansson's vision unfolded on the runway, showcasing collections that exuded a blend of elegance, minimalism, and a hint of subversiveness. This move propelled Acne Studios onto the international stage, solidifying their position as a force to be reckoned with in the fashion industry.

Acne Studios

The brand's aesthetic was defined by a perfect mix of clean silhouettes, unexpected proportions, and a muted colour palette. Acne Studios’ ability to create effortlessly chic yet statement-making pieces became its hallmark. From oversized coats and tailored suits to asymmetrical dresses and avant-garde knitwear, each collection reflected a harmonious balance between modern sophistication and a rebellious spirit.

Designers like Andreas Tornberg and Tomas Skoging played instrumental roles in shaping Acne Studios’ identity. Their contributions infused a fresh perspective while staying true to the brand's ethos of innovation and creativity.

One of the standout products that propelled Acne Studios to fame was their footwear line. The introduction of their iconic “Pistol” boots in 2010 became an instant hit, captivating fashion enthusiasts worldwide. These boots, renowned for their sleek design and exceptional quality, became a must-have staple, symbolizing the brand's fusion of style and functionality.

The brand's accessories, especially their coveted bags, also gained immense popularity. Acne Studios' handbags, known for their minimalistic yet striking designs, became sought-after fashion statements. Their ability to blend luxurious materials with understated elegance resonated with a clientele seeking timeless yet fashion-forward accessories.

Acne Studios

In 2013, Acne Studios introduced their iconic embroidered face patch, often referred to as the “Nash Face,” or simply the “Face.” It's characterized by its minimalistic yet expressive design, typically showcasing a hand-drawn look with two oval-shaped eyes, a horizontal line for the mouth, and occasionally simple eyebrows. The face exudes a sense of understated charm and character, embodying the brand's ethos of effortless style and individuality.

Acne Studios' collaborations with artists, musicians, and creatives further cemented its status as a boundary-pushing brand. Collaborations with artists like Katerina Jebb and musicians like Jonny Greenwood from Radiohead added an eclectic touch to their collections, showcasing a fusion of fashion and artistry.

The brand's expansion into beauty and fragrance marked yet another milestone. Their line of perfumes, characterized by unconventional scents and sleek packaging, echoed the brand's ethos of creating distinct and unique expressions.

As Acne Studios continues to evolve, it remains a symbol of contemporary fashion, effortlessly blending modernity with an artistic edge. With its commitment to pushing the boundaries of design and creating novel expressions, the brand stands as a beacon of innovation in the ever-evolving landscape of fashion.