||Fall/Winter is THE season for jackets, my favorite season (not for the actual weather, though). What jackets, coats, etc. - besides your own - do you like?
I'm (still) into East and West German military at the moment. We recently found a cold war era West German Splitterschutzweste (flak vest). It has an asymmetric closure that's totally unorthodox and, at the same time, totally right. It's amazing..
Before we talk about your new collection, tell us about the development of Acronym as a design studio over the past 2-3 years. You have grown quite a bit?
Two years ago I started working with Johanna, my first assistant in Berlin. Recently, the team has grown to where we can do everything we need to do without ever leaving the building: product, identity, film, strategy, dumplings, cake, interpretive dance... We're all freelance, and all running additional individual projects, so there's massive throughput. Lots to do. Lots to absorb. Lots to learn. Michaela in Brooklyn, Turbo in Tokyo, Bagjack, and our factory in CZ, continue to evolve as the other major hubs in the network. Watch this space.
All growth is relative, though. The next smallest company doing comparable work is (last I checked) upwards of 50 times larger than we are. The largest players on the field -some tens of thousands of times (yes, that's several million percent bigger). Think about what this means. So, in relation to that, we've grown from infintessimally small, to still really really freaking small. But this is OK; we know Kung Fu.
One of the highlights from the new collection is the SS-CP1 Cloak. How would you rate the balance between functionality and style of this piece and how does this cloak fit into the bigger ACR picture?
Throughout prototyping everyone who saw SS-CP1 had a similar question, 'You're not actually going to make that, are you?'. It developed out of Johanna and I messing around with dead stock fabric at the factory. We were just cutting things up and trying them on. Making things for our own personal use. The early capes immediately felt right, but I wasn't sure they qualified as Acronym. Later, in Los Angeles, I showed one to Michaela and her reaction was the same as mine, 'Weird, but somehow... great.' Still later, and then back in Berlin, a friend (concept designer Stephen Platt) and I were discussing movement and posture, low and high ready position... stance (yeah, we talk about this kind of stuff all the time). I showed him a proto, and we had the idea to add Interops functionality to it. That's when it really finally clicked.
In the end, what makes an Acronym piece, for me, is a very specific kind of balance, but it's not something I can describe well with words. Technical as it may be, it can't be reduced to a formula. So, no, SS-CP1 is not protective in the same way a jacket is. And, yes, it violates pretty much every design rule there is for technical outerwear. It is, however, totally Acronym. Absolutely. I was wearing mine today.
For the first time your collection also has three styles for women: a trench coat, a variable softshell, and a cloak. What is the difference in designing women's pieces for Acronym as compared to men's?
Conceptually, there's no difference whatsoever. Practically, there are the obvious anatomic and physiological differences, and, of course, the differing degree of knowledge and experience that we can bring to bear. We're just getting started with women's wear. It's wide open, uncharted territory.
What has the feedback been on the women's so far? From what I hear - at the shop and in our circle of friends - women are definitely looking and waiting for something like this?
Even before we started, there was tons of feedback from the girls. Feedback on the styles for men. As in: 'Why don't you make this for girls?' 'Does this come in extra small?' 'When are you going to do a version of this for me?' 'What's taking so long??' ;-].
So yeah, so far so good. But ask me this again a few years from now, when the girls have really put some miles on the stuff.
Most of your accounts are stores that only carry men's clothing so the distribution channel is rather limited for now. Can you imagine expanding on this and what kind of stores could you imagine carrying ACR WMNS?
Expanding? Absolutely. As far as the type of store, we'll have to see. I think it's more a question of stores realizing that they can sell what we do, rather than us picking a certain kind of shop. It's the same as when we first started out. No one knew what to do with us. We were too stylish for sports, too expensive for street, too tech for fashion. Now we're present in some of the best of all of those types of shops. We've hung next to Balenciaga. We've shown up on Soldier Systems. We're not good at fitting into neatly defined categories. So it would be hard for me to describe our ideal type of store, or customer, even.
I think part of what we do is universal. At the end of the day, real technology (i.e. technology that lets you to do something that you can't do without it) is quality. People understand this instantly. They see it and they want it to be part of their daily life. It's totally natural. I think the industry is just starting to understand this as well. We're going to see a lot more tech from a lot more brands from here on out. And, eventually, it will reach the entire spectrum; all price categories, all aesthetics, and (unfortunately) all levels of execution.
Finally, as always at the end of an interview: I have heard murmurs about a special project in/for Japan. Can you leak some info already?
Sure. We have a new brand called DISAERAN that we have built in partnership with celebrated Japanese retailers United Arrows. I believe it will launch in the next week or so. It's JP only at the moment, but hopefully we'll be able to open up distribution soon. Price wise, Disaeran may not live in the same neighborhood as Acronym, but they're definitely friends. They've been to the same concerts, read the same books, maybe even dated some of the same girls. Like Whitaker and Rza in Ghost Dog.