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Essay: Acne Studios: A Quirky Stockholm-Based Fashion House

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  • Published: 1 April 2019*
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Acne Studios is a Stockholm-based fashion house that is founded by Jonny Johansson, who currently is also the creative director of the fashion brand.

1.1 Company Background

1.1.1 Vision/Mission

The brand’s mission is to make really interesting designs which are functional.

1.1.2 Target Market

They target men and women in their mid 20s to their mid 40s, middle to upper class people with income of about S$5000 or more, and most likely working in the creative industry.

1.1.3 Competitors

Their competitors are fashion brands like COS and APC, who has similar price range and design style. A lot of people who likes Acne Studios also likes COS and APC.

1.2 Brand Strategy

1.2.1 Brand Essence

Acne is quirky. This can be seen in their products, styling, promotional campaigns, and even store interior and locations. They have a rather unique style of doing things and that is what their customers love about them.

1.2.2 Core Values

Jonny Johansson likes the idea to make ugly become cool which he applies not

Acne Studios Pre-Fall ’17 Campaign only his products, but also in his branding. This will be further explained in branding activities section.

1.2.3 Brand Personality

Acne is quirky, creative, one-of-a-kind, and want to stand out. This could be seen from everything Johansson does to his brand.

1.2.4 Brand Positioning

Their price range is from €80 (S$130) until €1500 (S$2446). This brand is in the middle of the market, based on the price range.

1.3 Brand Activities

1.3.1 Brand Name

The word Acne in Acne Studios is an abbreviation of Ambition to Create Novel Expressions. Johansson thought that using the name of something unwanted and changing them into something cool would be interesting. This

Acne Studios Logo could be linked back to Acne Studios’ core values.

1.3.2 Logo

Acne Studios’ logo is nothing complicated. It is just the brand’s name that is typed in sans font, capital on the A of Acne and S of Studios. The word Acne and Studios is separated by a huge space in the middle. The logo normally has white fonts with pink background.

1.3.3 Product

a) Clothings and Accessories

Acne Studios First Denim Jeans. Source: Grailed

Acne Studios sells various kinds of garments and accessories like shirts, dresses, and shoes. But, this brand is most famous for it’s denim jeans. Other than being the first product of Acne Studios, many people say that Acne Studios’ jeans are of an excellent quality with reasonable price.

b) Furniture

Acne Sofa by Carl Malmsten

Acne Studios’ furnitures are not really talked about, but certainly their designs are minimalistic yet aesthetically pleasing. Acne’s pieces would always have something that screams, “This is Acne Studios!”.

c) Magazine

Acne Studios’ magazine is called Acne Paper. They write things about fashion, but then they would also put biographies of interesting people which are not always somebody from the fashion industry, and also some aesthetically pleasing works of art like portraits and illustrations. They would also put in their products, but usually only about 2 to 3 pages.

ACNE PAPER: Acne Studios’ Magazine. Screenshot from Acne Paper website.

1.3.4 Services

They offer minor alterations for jeans in store. As for people who bought their products online, they would have to go to the nearest store in order to make alterations. Sadly they cannot do alterations online, so they cannot offer this service for people who live in a place with no Acne Studios store.

1.3.5 Packaging

This part of branding could be linked to Acne Studios’ core values: to make ugly become cool. He intentionally made his packagings coloured in pink because he wanted to see guys going around carrying his pink bag, to make guys carrying pink bags become cool.

Acne Studios Paper Bag. Source: Pinterest

1.3.6 Social Media

Acne Studios Social Media Accounts Screenshot

Acne Studios has 5 social medias: Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and Weibo. They usually only post about their products and promotional campaigns. They do not make their posts in a certain colour or style in order to make it look unified, unlike most fashion brands. They always use the hashtag #AcneStudios in every posts about their products and promotional campaigns in every platforms except Facebook. In Facebook, instead of using the hashtag, they tag themselves in their posts.

Screenshots of Acne Studios’ Posts. Top: Facebook. Bottom: Instagram

1.3.7 Promotions/Advertisements

Johansson would usually go anti-mainstream by using non-model models, and/or

Acne Studios’ Promotional Campaigns. Top: S/S 2017, bottom left: S/S 2015, bottom right: Men’s S/S 2016 quirky aesthetic concepts. They usually place their logo differently like covering the model’s face, distorting the logo, or even writing them backwards like mirror effect. The campaigns they do are based on certain themes with different messages to convey. Other than that, they also put their promotional campaigns in weird places. For example, they stick lots of posters of their Fall/Winter 2017 campaign in a line on the wall of a street in San Fransisco.

– Screenshot of Acne Studios’ Instagram post about their  Fall/Winter 2017 campaign that are posted in San Fransisco.

1.3.8 Website

Acne Studios’ Website Screenshot: Top and Bottom.

Their website (https://www.acnestudios.com) has white header with black fonts. The website actually looks very simple, but their latest promotional campaign is quite flashy that their website’s overalls also looks flashy since it’s so big.  Apparently, their current theme is 70’s Groove: Saturday Night Fever, that’s why Acne who’s usually plain had become flashy with the colours and prints. Navigation wise, their website is very simple and user friendly as you can find what you want and/or need to find easily. Also, they offer some customer care in the website: e-mail, direct phone call, and 24 hours live chat which you can use to contact them if there is anything you need.

1.3.9 Visual Merchandise

Acne Studios’ Website Screenshot: Customer Care

Acne Studios’ Store. Top: Hong Kong (Source: Acne Studios Website), Bottom: Aoyama, Japan (Source: Pinterest)

Johansson insists to have different kinds of interior for each flagship stores. He said that having the same store everywhere is boring so he’s not doing it. Other than that, his stores’ locations are often hard to find. MARGARET HOWELL

Margaret Howell. Source: London Fashion Week

Margaret Howell is a brand named after it’s founder and creative director that is based in England.

2.1 Company Background

2.1.1 Vision/Mission

The brand’s mission is to bring British tradition, quality, and skill together in clothes that are meant to be worn in the real world.

2.1.2 Target Market

Psychologically, her target market is modern people who does not like to be restricted. People who loves British style clothings and minimalistic clothings. Economically, they would be people with income of S$5000 or more.

2.1.3 Competitors

Howell’s brand competitors would be APC and Norse as they have pretty much the same brand positioning. People who likes Howell’s designs usually likes APC and Norse too.

2.2 Brand Strategy

2.2.1 Brand Essence

Margaret Howell is quirky, minimalistic, and sophisticated. This can be seen in their branding activities which will be explained later.

2.2.2 Core Values

Howell emphasises on using comfortable and natural materials as it is how British style clothing should be like: looks good and comfortable.

2.2.3 Brand Personality

From my observation, Howell’s brand personality is simple, smart, minimal, and effortless. Her designs are always simple and minimalistic, but the details she put into the designs are always useful. Also, you don’t need to much effort to style the clothes, because most of them looks good as it is.

2.2.4 Brand Positioning

The price ranged from £20 (S$37) until £1000 (S$1840) based on their latest collection. This brand is in the same position with Acne Studios.

2.3 Branding Activities

2.3.1 Brand Name

The brand’s name, Margaret Howell, is basically the founder’s name. There is no other meaning in it.

2.3.2 Logo

For the logo, she uses sans font with all capital letters. The colours are monochromatic: black, grey, white, the same as their photoshoot style.

2.3.3 Product

Margaret Howell only sells clothings and accessories like bags and shoes. When you see her designs closely, there is always small unique details in it, and of course, some British touch.

2.3.4 Services

They offer online customers free shipping for orders above £250. If customer shops below £250, shipping charge would be £10. They promise to ship items listed in stock within 2 days of receiving the order (for UK based customers).

2.3.5 Packaging

Margaret Howell’s Paper Bag. Source: StudioSmall

The packaging is very minimalistic. They have white bag with black “MHL.” at the bottom right of the front side of the bag, and a small “MARGARET HOWELL” below the “MHL.”. At the top of the bag, there are holes (front and back) big enough for a hand to slip in.

2.3.6 Social Media

Margaret Howell has some social media accounts: Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, and Pinterest. The instagram looks very minimalistic due to the white frame on all their posts. Instagram is also the only platform where the hashtag #MargaretHowell used. In other platforms, they would directly write the explanation of the photo they posted without any hashtags.

2.3.7 Promotions/Advertisements

Margaret Howell’s Promotional Campaigns. Left: A/W 2014, right: A/W 2017

Howell’s promotional campaigns are always black and white with very calming mood in it. The way she styles her models are always so sophisticated and “British”. The background they use are usually buildings or landscapes. She is confirmed to do collaboration with UK fashion brand “Barbour” for A/W 2018. The collection will be about England’s heritage, timeless originals. It is said that her strong point is to bring “England” into her designs.

2.3.8 Website

Their website (https://www.margarethowell.co.uk) is very monochromatic and minimalistic: plain white background with black or grey fonts. Utility wise, the website is very organised and user friendly. You can easily find what you need to find. They way she shows her clothes in “shop” section is very “Margaret Howell”. Simple, minimalistic, just the clothing laid flat on a plain grey background.

2.3.9 Visual Merchandise

The store is very minimalistic with beautiful British touch. Her stores always have amazing natural lighting during the day and is very cozy, as if you’re in home.

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