Jonny Johansson is no stranger to gender bending, but with war and soccer in the headlines, he felt the moment was ripe to revisit masculine stereotypes. His fall collection for Acne Studios was a send-up of the ultimate he-man: the cave dweller.
The designer picked the theme as an ironic take on toxic masculinity.
“What’s so interesting now with young men is that they don’t have this baggage, which maybe I carry around,” he said. “Last season, when we had the casting, all the boys came with a handbag, and all the girls came with a skateboard. It’s something that’s been going on for a while, but now these young people live it, it’s not just a fashion fad.”
He may feel burdened by the weight of received ideas, but you could never accuse Johansson of thinking inside the box. His caveman looked like a cross between a wrestler and Britney Spears.
Dirty jeans, oversize jackets and patchwork plaids contrasted with corset tops and spiral-laced pants, while lacy underwear peeked out from the waistband of black biker pants or baggy pinstriped slacks.
Tie-dyed, washed and bleached fabrics echoed the mineral textures of cave walls, while snug singlets were worn with calf socks, in a wry take on soccer’s stranglehold on the male psyche.
“I don’t feel comfortable with a man that acts like a ‘real man,’ but I feel very comfortable with the aesthetic,” Johansson mused. “It’s something that feels like home.”
He explained that a cropped T-shirt emblazoned with the name “Greta” was a jokey reference to his reclusive reputation, which has prompted friends to compare him to silent screen star Greta Garbo.
But in light of recent events, it could read as a sign of support for Greta Thunberg, the climate activist who set Twitter alight with her caustic replies to taunts from misogynist TikTok star Andrew Tate, who was subsequently arrested by Romanian authorities as part of a human trafficking and rape investigation.
Johansson has known Thunberg since she was a toddler in the same day care center as his son. “I could have never imagined in daycare that she would be what she is,” he marveled.
No doubt, his teenage self could not have imagined either a future where boys are free to wear high-heeled shoes and bra tops. With this free-wheeling collection, stretching those boundaries just got a little more fun.