Can Acne Studios Get Back on Top?

For its new Paris flagship, Acne Studios chose to open its store on Rue Saint Honoré, outfitting the 385 square-metre location in the iconic limestone material that clads most of the city’s historic buildings — an homage to the capital of luxury fashion as well as one of its most competitive markets. The shop sits just a stone’s throw from the Place Vendôme jewellery district, on a street where luxury megabrands like Balenciaga and Saint Laurent have recently been joined by buzzy names like Ami and Le Labo.

For most luxury brands, seizing the opportunity to open shop on a street like Rue Saint Honoré is a no-brainer. But for Acne it’s something of a shift: the Stockholm-based label has previously shied away from popular shopping streets in favour of more low-key destinations, chief executive Mattias Magnusson said. (Its other Paris stores, for example, are tucked away in the gardens of the Palais Royal or in the upper limits of the Marais.)

The fashion industry Acne is operating in today is wildly different from the one it started out in in the late ‘90s. In the post-Covid luxury landscape, where large brands with deep pockets command the lion’s share of consumer attention, staying relevant as a small, independent label is harder than ever.

The current macroeconomic climate is only adding pressure: high rates of inflation in the US and Europe, slowing GDP growth, and the war in Ukraine have clouded the outlook for consumer demand this year, while the current Covid-19 lockdowns in China are already weighing on many brands’ top-line growth. Acne has adjusted its sales forecast this year from €320 million to €300 million ($338.4 million to $317.2 million) to account for recent disruptions in the China market, Magnusson said.

Acne has proven it can weather a storm: in 2020, the brand’s revenues were broadly flat year on year at €260 million, when, by contrast, the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic sent sales of personal luxury goods plunging…

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