12 Dec 2014
Swedish fashion label Acne Studios went from being a small creative collective to an international powerhouse, with more than 40 stores and 650 points of sale worldwide, including its first Hong Kong boutique, which opened in October.
Established in 1996 as part of the creative collective ACNE, the fashion house offers men's and women's ready-to-wear fashion, footwear, accessories and denim, as well as special artistic collaborations and one-off projects.
Acne CEO, co-Owner and Executive Chairman Mikael Schiller, was in Hong Kong last week to speak at the Business of Design Week, where he offered his insights into the brand’s rise in the fashion scene.
Acne recently opened its first store in Hong Kong. Why is now the right time to open in Hong Kong?
Hong Kong is one of the world’s most iconic fashion cities and an important market for us. We started selling here early. We’ve been looking for a good location for a while, but didn’t want to settle until we found something we really liked. We don’t have any additional stores planned yet, but I’ve always loved the energy and grittiness of Hong Kong and we would love to expand our presence further here.
How has Acne’s design culture and strategy enabled the brand to grow?
Our approach to growth is organic; we trust our own instinct a lot. It may sound naïve, but for us, since we do not come from a traditional fashion context, it has been a successful formula. It’s hard to be very specific about our design culture since all we do is based on it. The product, in a broader context, is everything for us.
Are there any differences between your Chinese and Asian customers compared to your European clients?
I don’t think there are huge differences among the Asian consumers, at least not for us. I find our Asian customer very sophisticated. The most evident difference between our Western and Asian clients is probably that we sell more smaller sizes in Asia.
Sweden’s design aesthetic is well known around the world. What characteristics of this aesthetic do you think resonates with global customers?
I think the simplicity and functionality of Swedish design is what strikes most people. We are a part of this tradition too, being Swedish after all. But I think we’ve found our own way to bring those values into a contemporary luxury world.
What is Acne’s environmental and sustainability strategy?
Making high-quality products is an important part of our sustainability strategy. In terms of materials, we already use some that are classified as environmental preferable, such as lyocel and reclaimed wool, but we are planning to increase this in coming years. Still, we are concerned about the impact that our industry has on the environment and we have an internal team working on these issues every day. We are also a member of the Fair Wear Foundation.
How is your brand responding to some of the challenges in the luxury sector?
People have been talking about seamless shopping for a while, but nobody has really cracked it in luxury fashion. We started our web store www.acnestudios.com in 2006 and have always been passionate about its development. We are also obsessed about giving great service. These things combined will continue to be a challenging and interesting intersection for us and the whole industry.