To Serve and Protect: The Latest from ACG Resists the Elements in Two Ways
November 28, 2017
Johanna Schneider is clear about what the latest ACG collection is designed to do: “My ultimate expectation for ACG garments is to provide the highest and best support in everyday situations that I faced in Berlin and that I know to be consistent with life in other cities,” she says.
Weather conditions (particularly temperature change) and durability are a given. Protection against the elements, whether outdoors or built, is essential. However, Schneider also believes that the distinction of ACG comes from a more abstract version of protection — that which comes from perception.
“My ultimate expectation for ACG garments is to provide the highest and best support in everyday situations.”
“During winter, you're exposed to harsh weather changes, but also you have to protect yourself,” she says. “You want a really high level of comfort when moving in what are very vivid, intense and demanding environments.”
In many respects, solving for that comfort has been one of the underlying challenges in the crafting of the ACG assortment. Since its return in 2014, when Errolson Hugh joined as the line’s partner designer, ACG’s focus on urban utility has given new form to functional favorites — like GORE-TEX® parkas and flight jackets — as well as defined new trouser silhouettes.
Now, with the introduction of ACG women’s, Schneider and Hugh — themselves long-time design partners with decades of experience in both fashion and outdoor apparel — the once concealed challenge of comfort is revealed. Most obviously, color is introduced: A bold orange for the NikeLab ACG PO Shell, a cool mint for the NikeLab ACG 3-in-1 Coat. With color, Schneider and Hugh reveal their soft, humorous side, but also make overt their brilliance in balancing emotion and purpose.
“A huge component for us is the expression of the garment,” explains Schneider. “Often, women's product is so directional, it’s expressive and it carries a level of emotion. We discussed how that is sometimes missing in men’s product, and those conversations opened up a new space for the collection to evolve.”
“The extremes we design from for ACG have to encompass the full range of possibility on the technical side."
Hugh agrees. “The main thing we were looking at when we designed ACG is the ability to transition between different states,” he says. “The extremes we design from for ACG have to encompass the full range of possibility on the technical side. And on the aesthetic side, we know your outfit is communicating who you are and what you're about, and that's equally important for ACG. Those two have to be handled: On the one hand, to blend in and look respectable, and on the other hand feel confident and have the relevant swag.”
The NikeLab ACG 3-in-1 Coat, the new collection’s hallmark piece, is a great example. While the men’s and women’s versions are built off unique patterns, the essential elements carry the same level of weather protection (from the GORE-TEX® outer shell) and emotion. “While the shell is a really still, solid color when you take it off, you reveal the energy that's living inside of you through the mint liner,” says Schneider.
Beyond the new emotional balance of color, Schneider also designed the new women’s collection with fit and feel in mind. Her take on the trouser, which follows the DNA of Hugh’s now iconic, articulated ACG look offers women’s specific components that relay a more targeted equilibrium between comfort and mobility. The waist then becomes the trousers’ signature detail: A raised gusset made of softer material that rises up the back against the skin and calmly locks the body in.
This, of course, is a subtle design element. However, it’s in those perceptive nuances — the structure of the jacket elbow, the taper of a pant — that the ACG line shines. And it’s within those details that technical and sentimental protection is matched.