Acne Studios Relaunches Acne Paper Magazine | BoF Professional, News and Insights


Is the written press dead? Not if you ask Acne Studios.

After a seven-year hiatus, the Swedish label is relaunching its beloved print magazine, Acne paper, with its founding editor-in-chief, Thomas Persson, once again at the helm. Acne Studios founder Jonny Johansson originally launched the publication in 2005; between that date and 2014, he explored the intersection of fashion, art, culture and literature through 15 biannual thematic issues. The magazine ceased publication not for financial reasons, said Mattias Magnusson, CEO of Acne, but because its creators didn’t want the format to become repetitive. Now it is restarting with a new look and a new perspective that is more global and politically charged.

“Since the creation [Acne’s] always been on multidisciplinary creativity and on cross-pollinating different creative disciplines and seeing where you end up. This is the ultimate product for us to do that, ”he said, adding,“ Sometimes I think you kind of have to take a break from the things you love to realize how much you love them. . “

Acne Studios is relaunching Acne Paper magazine with the cover of artist Yousef Sabry. Courtesy.

Over the years, many brands have used magazines as a marketing tool to build brand awareness and build deeper relationships with consumers. These experiments, however, have had varying degrees of success. Acne was one of the few that got it to work.

With the Acne paper, the Swedish brand created a standalone, albeit niche, publication that people coveted, drawing readers into the world of the Acne brand without really trying to sell them anything. While Acne Studios published the magazine, it was produced independently by a small team who are not part of the brand’s full-time staff. This approach helped create a publication that was a credible magazine in its own right, rather than one that was seen as an Acne-branded catalog, Magnusson said.

“It had a very independent sense of editorial direction,” said Jeremy Leslie, former magazine art director and founder of magCulture, a London-based editorial consultancy that also runs a magazine boutique and produces events. “The content wasn’t about acne, the content was just a great magazine … The magazine kind of brought a whole bunch of cool to the brand.”

Years after its last post, there is still an appetite for Acne’s post. In June, the brand released a commemorative compilation of highlights from the magazine’s archives, the Acne Paper Book, priced at € 95 ($ 110). In two days, the circulation of 4,500 copies sold out, forcing the brand to reprint more copies to meet demand. Archival copies of the first Acne paper iteration are now selling on the second-hand market for over $ 100, depending on the brand.

Certainly, a project like this does not come cheap. Acne Studios has invested heavily in the new issue, which, according to a source close to the magazine, cost around $ 500,000 to produce. Magnusson, however, believes it is a worthwhile investment, even if the return is more difficult to quantify than more traditional forms of marketing.

“Sometimes doing things you really love is an underrated business strategy,” Magnusson said. “If you’re doing something you really love, there’s a good chance someone else will love it too. And this is a great place to start.

The rebooted publication is a hybrid between a magazine and a tabletop book. With over 500 pages, it is bigger, but more compact than its predecessors. Its physical design is meant to lend itself to being a collector’s item, Magnusson said, with a removable dust jacket that unfolds in large print by emerging artist Yousef Sabry.

A spread of

A broadcast of the “Age of Aquarius” issue of the Acne Paper. Courtesy.

The content of the publication has also become more comprehensive and political. Thirty-five journalists, writers, photographers, stylists and artists have been enlisted to contribute. The first issue, titled ‘The Age of Aquarius’, features essays by theater critic Hilton Als and physicist Fritjof Capra, while figures such as Brazilian activist and author Djamila Ribeiro and Bangladeshi environmentalist architect Marina Tabassum are broadcast.

“It’s a different world today than it was in 2005 and this magazine now also reflects that,” Magnusson said. “You can’t create an interesting magazine today without covering the topics that are most relevant to people. “

The relaunch comes at a time when the online space is increasingly saturated, making it harder than ever for luxury brands to engage consumers and build relationships. From that perspective, returning to a “more archaic medium” like print is a way for brands to differentiate themselves, said Luca Solca, analyst at Bernstein.

“Ultimately, one of the most important tests of communication is getting noticed. It looks like some brands – recently Bottega Veneta for example – have tried something different than jumping on the social media bandwagon, ”he said.

Founded in 1996, Acne Studios is known for its high-end ready-to-wear and distinct brand of Scandinavian cool, with a network of over 45 stores around the world. In December 2018, China-focused investment firm IDG Capital and Hong Kong-based IT group both took minority stakes in the company, with Johansson and Chairman Mikael Schiller remaining majority shareholders in the company. Before the pandemic, the brand’s turnover amounted to 260 million euros. The company forecasts a turnover of 300 million euros for this fiscal year ended in September 2022.

For the relaunch of Acne paper, the company is increasing the circulation of the magazine to 7,000 copies, up from 4,000 in the magazine’s first edition. Priced at € 40, the title will be sold in Acne Studios stores and select magazine retailers around the world.

“In this day and age where everything is pretty much commercialized in one way or another, it’s actually a great freedom and a privilege for us to be able to create this product and not have a solid reflection on an analysis. making a profit, but actually just making a product that we really, really love, ”Magnusson said.

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