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Highsnobiety Q&A June, 7 2011

Talking Life & Work With… Johanna from Acronym

Acronym has become synonymous for innovative high end technical clothing over the years. Errolson Hugh, the founder, has built a strong team of creatives around himself, now not only handling Acronym, but also various other design jobs, including the Stone Island Shadow range. We sat down with Johanna Schneider and talked to her about life, work, Acronym and sewing on buttons.

If you were someone else, who would you be ?

A pro surfer! When I was young I had a deep relationship with nature. I spent hours walking, exploring, feeling, tasting, singing and dancing with the nature.

This gave me total freedom.The first time I caught a wave, I felt so close to nature like I did in those moments. I felt the same naïve euphoria and closeness to the nature, like i was small. If I would have the requirements, I’d be a surfer.

Did you ever think that you moved into the wrong kind of work ?

No. I’m still in the process of realizing that the work I’m doing is exactly what I always wanted to do. And that I finally ended up able to express myself and my ideas of fashion freely. It happens that I drive to my work in the morning and when I enter the acronym studio, I say to myself, “Hey that’s you, being a part of the crew,” still realizing. I have to say that to myself sometimes. and after all the hard work, having the prototypes in your hands makes it all worth it.

Read the rest of the interview after the jump.

Can you do something that noone else can do ?

That’s my secret!!

We are leaning towards a society were work and spare time seems interlinked, is your work fun for you ? Or is your fun work ?

Creative work means being in a development and reflection process constantly. My work at acronym could be divided in two fields. The creative part, which includes the silhouette and design of a piece—this creative process takes part subconsciously. The inspiration arises innocently by impressions, meeting people and observing my environment.

The second and more difficult part is the fit, zero resistance and system design. there I’m solving problems by pattern constructions, manufacturing and treatments day by day. The 1000 rules; how water and windproof materials have to manufactured have to be kept. This means a lot of speculation and testing, testing, testing.
Doning this really gives me a sense of fulfillment and is exactly what I love doing.

But sometimes you can’t get further. You have to have distance; make a break. In these moments the solutions come easier, very often. Work means fun for me. For being productive constantly it’s important to me to have a balance. Family and friends are very important to me, this is my energypole that helps me fight the daily acronym challenges.

What is work worth ?

The feeling that you’ve created an absolutely new product makes me feel more alive. I love those moments: when we try to figure out a new pocket, cuff, gusset or never ending hood constructions. and finally develop something totally new. The day, when people first see the collection, try and test the pieces is a mixture of fear, relief and pride. That’s all worth is.

Could you see yourself working for free at one point ?! Or even is there such a thing as free work ?

If I would have the opportunity to work on a project that’s really interesting and sounds like fun. I would do that besides my job. Especially if the project takes part in another medium I used to work with and if the project will give me great experience and having a good time.

Have you ever been free ?

What do you mean? Besides the German bureaucracy, I feel free to do everything I want!

What is the most achievable thing ?

To keep on being free.

Has working with Errolson taught you new things ?

A lot, this guy is an alien!! Haha. He is an all-round specialist. His extensive experiences in design is amazing. When I started working for errolson I thought, what can I tell this guy about new pocket solutions!!??? I don’t want to know how many solutions he already did. I was a bit nervous.

Errolson gives me a lot of knowledge about how functional materials have to be handled and constructed. also the opportunity to work for different labels, everyone with it’s aspect is amazing.

Besides that he infects me with his Jamaican mood. Work at acronym is craaaazy, but this guy keeps his relaxed smiling in the stressfullest situations. This gets me down, you must know I’m a control freak!!

How much more can fashion take ?

I have to say, that I’m a little bit bored by fashion at the moment.

I whish that the fashion industry would have more courage again and would work more independently from the market. We don’t need 10 collections in one year, which look the same in all price categories. We need good product— good in terms of quality and authenticity. This could only be changed if the shops are more self-confident about their product selection to offer a divers range. Especially in Germany. I’m very concerned how long this period will last till it explodes.

Will there ever be another real NEW BLACK ?

You can’t imagine how many different black tones you get offered from only one textile manufacturer! Especially with acronym it’s extremely difficult. I think the perfect black is not only a question of pigments, more a question of structure.

Can you sew on a button ? And how often some of your relatives ask you to do it ?

I love this question. Remember, my last name is Schneider. The name is the program. Honestly, I hate sewing buttons, especially in a hurry. If somebody asks me to sew a button or hem a pair of pants, I tell him how much it costs to go to a tailor. I take almost all my stuff to my tailor of trust. How many times you asked…it’s getting better!

What was the most creative thing you have ever seen ?

It’s long time ago, when I saw blade runner the first time. I was fascinated and scared at the same time but never get really close to the movie. Maybe because the film was made the year I was born. wow.

Errolson is a huge fan of this movie and showed me the whole making of set, costume and graphic design. The entire complexity of the gesamtkunstwerk blew me away. This amound of creativity till the last detail is amazing. How they created a whole new world so consequently. To me this is a great example of significant creativity.

What was the the most creative thing you ever come up with ?

That’s difficult to say. The purest creative moments for me are the ones when I’m in a kind of meditation. Then I can feel an idea grow in my mind. I can feel the sence of silhouette, dynamic and structure of a piece. It’s a kind of flow in my mind, I really have to focus to let the idea get more precize. then I have to bring it to paper really quickly before i forget it.

Interview by Henrik Kuerschner.

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