‘It was time to take a fresh look at everything we did with denim,’ explains Acne Studios’ creative director Jonny Johansson of the Swedish brand’s decision to relaunch its denim line earlier this month. To mark its new 'Blå Konst' range- meaning ‘blue art’ - the brand have opened an equally masterly outpost in Shibuya, Tokyo, entirely dedicated to its new selection of men’s and women’s styles.
‘Blå Konst is a very personal project for me,’ says Johansson, who first moved into fashion design over a decade ago, when Acne Studios, then a creative agency, designed 100 pairs of raw denim jeans for its friends and family. ‘It was important to debut the concept in a place that was special,’ he adds. Like each new denim style that is created from scratch, the new 68m2 store features interior finishes exclusive to the space. Bright accents, including a sky blue carpet and an iron staircase painted signal red, are juxtaposed against metallic furnishings, like reflective stainless steel cubes, gold metal baskets and rails.
Acne Studios' 'Blå Konst' outpost in Shibuya is located near a bustling city crossing
Juxtaposition is central to Acne Studios’ retail aesthetic. In its Max Lamb-designed Madison Avenue flagship, which opened last November, the space included bronze furniture and gold accents, contrasted against organic custom-made rugs which were hand-dyed in Lamb’s London studio and hand-tufted in Sweden. This interest in contrasts is highlighted in the Shibuya store too. Two Doric lamps created from NSEPS material, hang above the shining surfaces. They also accentuate the grainy canvas fabrics and speckled materials used in Blå Konst’s accompanying accessories offering, made up of every day totes, backpacks and and trainers.
This sense of the everyday, intrinsic to the idea of denim, is echoed in the store's inclusion of rotating vertical metal blinds and office-like overhead strip lighting. Outside, the facade of the store boasts a blue neon sign with a more stand out message: ‘we are here’. It highlights the second arrival of a brand that marked its initial entry into fashion with a ubiquitous yet utterly distinct item.