Akris has never been defined by a brand logo or its connection to a global conglomerate. For 100 years, the family-owned Swiss fashion house has been revered for simply doing what it does best: creating a line of luxurious garments that are as effortless as they are modern. From its rich double-face fabrics, to its fine cashmere, St. Gallen embroidery and digital photo printing techniques, Akris’s quiet ascent into high fashion began humbly as an apron atelier in the small textile town of St. Gallen. To mark its 100th year as a leading luxury fashion brand, Akris has released a retrospective book documenting the history of the iconic brand–beginning with its location and traditions and eventually diving into the people that have shaped the fashion house’s unique identity.
Below, we sat down with creative director Albert Kriemler to discuss Akris: A Century in Fashion.
Why did you decide to publish a book?
There are few fashion houses in the world that can boast 100 years of family tradition. For us, that is something special. We came a long way from a humble apron atelier to an international brand, that is still based in St. Gallen, still family-owned, yet has found its place among the greats in fashion. It just felt right to take this moment as an incentive to pause, to look back in order to move forward into a new century. A book seemed to be the right medium for it.
What can we expect to find inside?
The book walks you through our beautiful city, St. Gallen, in a photo essay by a great photographer, Iwan Baan. We shot our archive looks with him at the Brutalist-style first and main building of the University of St. Gallen, an architectural gem from the 60s. Choreographer John Neumeier and artist Thomas Ruff discuss the creative collaborations with Akris and a defile of our collections since 2004 offers insights into various inspirations, craftsmanship and cutting-edge technologies behind them. And you will read and learn about my grandmother Alice Kriemler-Schoch, the founder of our house, already a woman of purpose in 1922. She was incredibly independent and humble, yet sophisticated and chic in her modesty. She built our company from buying a single sewing machine.
Did you learn anything new about the brand’s history while putting the book together?
It was more about re-discoveries than new discoveries. We don’t have a very big archive and I haven’t been to it for quite a while. But when we pulled out some of my essential designs from the 80s my team was amazed. None of them had ever seen these looks before and these clothes turned out to be so unexpected, perfect in volume and proportions – they even looked more modern today. So, we decided to work with them for our 100-year collection and showed some of the original looks on the catwalk. That was a surprise.
What do you want people to know about Akris that you hope comes across in the book?
That it is the people who matter in this business. Fashion never is a solo love affair, and my team, whether in the atelier or the background, are the foundation of our house. There is a section in the book, which introduces my masters of the atelier in generous portraits. Many worked with me for decades and are jointly responsible for the unique Akris signature. A certain signature, that is best described by one single, fabulous German word, which is also the title of the book: ‘selbstverständlich’. I use it even in English every time I speak about our work as it best describes a feeling of ease that I want to achieve when a woman slips into an Akris coat or dress. Clothing that is natural and self-evident, embodying an effortless modernity that defines a woman’s presence and enhances her charisma. Clothes that are created to stand the test of time.
While it’s important to look back, let’s hear about the future for a moment. What can we look forward to seeing from the brand as it continues to evolve?
In May 2023, we will open «Akris.fashion.selbstverständlich», an exhibition at the Museum für Gestaltung in Zürich. In addition, we will open a new store in Chicago, designed by David Chipperfield, who created a new boutique concept for us. After that, let’s wait and see.