Akris at 100: how the Swiss house is celebrating a century in fashion

Three women sit in archive Akris in Brutalist library
Archival Akris garments photographed at University of St Gallen by Iwan Baan. Work of art: Untitled, 1962/1963, by Antoni Tàpies © Comissió Tàpies, Lugano / 2022, ProLitteris, Zurich
(Image credit: Courtesy of Akris)

When Albert Kriemler was beginning to think about how best to celebrate Akris’ 100th birthday (the creative director is grandson of founder Alice Kriemler-Schoch), he asked himself the question: ‘What makes us unique?’

‘To answer, we went into the archive and picked out pieces from 1978-1992 that seemed particularly important to us,’ Kriemler explains from St Gallen, Switzerland, where the house was founded in 1922 (Akris began with Kriemler-Schoch manufacturing dotted aprons in fabrics from the area’s famed mills, later moving into clothing, much of which featured detailed embroidery).  

Albert Kriemler on 100 years of Akris

Two women stand in concrete corridor in archive Akris looking at light

Archival Akris garments photographed at University of St Gallen by Iwan Baan

(Image credit: Courtesy of Akris)

These various pieces – among them a double-faced cashmere overcoat (1978), a ruffle-collar lace blouse (1989) and a pair of vicuña nappa leather trousers (1983) – were subsequently photographed by Dutch image-maker Iwan Baan for an upcoming book, Selbstverständlich, which celebrates the house’s centennial year. ‘Selbstverständlich is the one single German expression [that] best encapsulates the Akris spirit for me,’ says Kriemler of the book’s title, which loosely translates to ‘natural’ or ‘self-evident’. ‘It perfectly conveys our aesthetic ideal of clothing, embodying an effortless modernity.’

The backdrop for the photographic series is the 1960s brutalist extension of the University of St Gallen by Swiss architect Water M Förderer, which features various works of contemporary art – a mobile by Alexander Calder, a sculpture by Hans Arp and a tapestry by Pierre Soulages are all found within the space. Since the beginning of his tenure at the house in 1979, Kriemler has positioned Akris at the intersection of fashion, art and architecture; collaborators have included Carmen Herrera, Geta Brătescu, Rodney Graham and Thomas Ruff, among others.

Seeing these archival pieces in a fresh context also set the groundwork for Kriemler’s S/S 2023 collection, shown at Palais de Tokyo last month as part of Paris Fashion Week S/S 2023 (the show doubled as a celebration of Akris’ century in fashion). ‘When we saw the pieces staged in this architectural landmark of modernity in St Gallen, we knew right away we had to work with them for our 100-year collection,’ says Kriemler. 

Fashion sketch of woman in Akris coat

A sketch by creative director Albert Kriemler

(Image credit: Courtesy of Akris)

‘There is always a fine line between embracing the past and defining the future. But these archive pieces seemed so new, unexpected, and stunningly modern to us, that we decided to base our collection on them. They had this absolute timelessness that is and remains modern.’

In the show itself, these archival pieces were interspersed within Kriemler’s S/S 2023 collection for a fusion of past, present and future (the aforementioned 1978 cashmere coat, created by his father Max Kriemler, opened the show). New pieces draw inspiration from the house’s history in both design (‘some came from old paper patterns I found and refashioned to make them of today’) and motifs (lace references his collections of the 1980s, while hearts recall Akris’ very first print, created by Gianpaolo Ghioldi for A/W 1989). 

‘When you think about brands with a past, you feel their history. But, with Akris, we want you to think of something that defies time,’ says Kriemler. ‘I think a woman should have the right to wear a dress for several years without it losing its relevance in the present. In fashion is not the latest fashion, but what really counts and looks right for the moment.’

Woman on runway in Akris outfit

Akris S/S 2023

(Image credit: Courtesy of Akris)

The anniversary allows a moment of contemplation for Kriemler. ‘A hundred years is a long time; times have changed, fashion has changed, and so has Akris,’ he says. ‘We have come a long way from a humble apron atelier to a fashion house presenting its collection at Paris Fashion Week. We are a small family business that has found its place among the greats in fashion. 

‘A hundred years ago, my grandmother Alice set out to define a woman’s presence and enhance her charisma, and that very much remains my mission today.’


Fashion Features Editor

Jack Moss is the Fashion Features Editor at Wallpaper*, joining the team in 2022. Having previously been the digital features editor at AnOther and digital editor at 10 and 10 Men magazines, he has also contributed to titles including i-D, Dazed, 10 Magazine, Mr Porter’s The Journal and more, while also featuring in Dazed: 32 Years Confused: The Covers, published by Rizzoli. He is particularly interested in the moments when fashion intersects with other creative disciplines – notably art and design – as well as championing a new generation of international talent and reporting from international fashion weeks. Across his career, he has interviewed the fashion industry’s leading figures, including Rick Owens, Pieter Mulier, Jonathan Anderson, Grace Wales Bonner, Christian Lacroix, Kate Moss and Manolo Blahnik.