Acne Studio's ambitious new store in London covers four floors of a former gallery in Mayfair. The Swedish brand's first UK outpost, it's a minimalist white temple, with artworks by the likes of Helmut Lang, Katerina Jebb and Husam el Odeh, a piano for live music at weekends and a roof terrace. 'The space feels very modern. When we stumble across it, I was fascinated to see whether we could live in this kind of environment,' says Jonny Johansson, creative director of the brand, whose diverse stores range from a former bank in Stockholm to a pop-inspired space in New York. Here he takes us on a tour of the new store.
'Acne isn't like some brands, whose concept is so all encompassing, they can just surround themselves with their world and roll this out wherever they are,' says Jonny Johansson. Something very different from previous stores was required for Acne's London space. 'I thought to myself, "An art gallery - that's really difficult. We're not creating art. It's not in our DNA." But I like a challenge.'
Asked if he's expecting his fashion collections to be venerated like artworks, he says: 'I see your point and I'm afraid of it.' But Acne - most famous for its jeans - is far too down to earth for this kind of posturing. 'What we have here is a gallery space that's a shop, not a gallery. Halfway through the project I kind of regretted choosing it because it's essentially a white cube, but the space felt right and there are a lot of galleries in the neighbourhood so I think it suits the area very well.'
Acne's stores now number in their twenties - quite an empire for a brand that was only born in 1996. It started out as an advertising agency and loose collective making film and music under the name Ambition to Create Novel Expressions. Now, as well as the fashion label, there's also a furniture collection, a children's toy division, a production company and the celebrated Acne Paper magazine. Next up? A Paris store in an altogether different setting: a converted garage in the Marais.