Fashion / Society

How Acne Studios created an entire empire from 100 pairs of jeans

By Allyson Shiffman
Acne Studios

Photo: Teitur Ardal

With over 60 stores worldwide, Acne Studios is Scandinavia’s biggest fashion house, showing comfortably among the international players at Paris Fashion Week. But it all started with a single pair of jeans. On the 25th anniversary of Acne Studios’ debut denim, Jonny Johansson and Mikael Schiller take a rare look back

It started 25 years ago with a pair of jeans. One hundred pairs, actually. Dark denim with red stitching. Acne Studios – then known as Acne – was a jack of all trades creative collective with its hand in graphic design, film, even furniture, wanted to break into fashion, too. The brand quite literally stood for “Ambition to Create Novel Expressions.”


So Acne Studios creative director and co-founder Jonny Johansson called up a factory in Italy to see about making 100 pairs of jeans. “When I said 100, he thought I meant 100,000,” Johansson says. “When he got to know that we were going to do 100 pairs, he just laughed and didn’t call us back.”