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Harley Weir lenses London’s most stylish teens for Acne Studios

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Here’s what the city’s bolshiest dressers have to say on their fashion influences and future dreams

While the convergent forces of social media, coronavirus, and the climate crisis give today something of a unique flavour, coming of age in 2021 is much like how it’s always been, steered by hormonal imbalances, desire, and playground politics. For SS22, Acne Studios have zeroed in on the best of years (and worst of years) with its Face collection, comprising blown out basketball tops emblazoned with angsty Edward Munch prints, slouchy knits which twist the label’s trademark smiley into an uncertain slant, and varsity-striped balaclavas. Real life teenagers feature in the campaign imagery, enveloped in snakes, half mohawks, split brows, and pet geckos, all lensed by Harley Weir. 

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With the expanse of adulthood stretching at their feet, it’s clear these young people are just beginning to assert their independence. To move out. To come out. To make money. To have sex. And to escape their families. As such, the models were all asked to style themselves, mixing pieces from the capsule into their own wardrobe. It means bags come laden with safety pins and studs while crystals and healing herbs dangle from the necks of young women, which is testament to the timelessness of teenage spirit – or at least its aesthetic. Below, the Acne Studios muses share their plans for graduation, their style icons, and the fashion rules they live by.

ZUMI, 18

“The first thing I wanna do when I leave school is lie down and catch up on social media and stuff. It’s a really interesting way of watching the world function, it represents people at their most extreme. It’s kind of like a social experiment of sorts – put the whole world in your hand and see what you get. My favourite piece of clothing I own is probably my puffer jacket, which I made out of my old school blazer and sewed a bunch of patches and studs on it. I like that I can build on it and that it’s a work in progress. I also decorated my room with Monster cans after I saw a TikTok of someone doing the same.” 

RAIFE, 17

“When I leave school I wanna get as far away as possible. My style in three words would be lost, expressionist, and spiralling. I have lots of old Eastern pieces of clothing but nothing, like, embarrassing. My favourite piece of clothing would be this blue East Asian style dress, which I got from a charity shop. It’s reminiscent of one of my mother’s.”

SAINICA, 16

“When I grow up I want to be a computer scientist because technology is really fascinating, we’re always surrounded by it. There needs to be a limit, like on social media, so that people don’t start comparing themselves to others. My style is like, quirky, funky, and fun. I’ve always been a fan of red so I just decided to dye my hair that colour. Since I’ve done red, though, I might go blue next time. I’ve gone with fire, I’ll go with sea. When I’m out of school I want to use my youth to travel the world. I want to go abroad and try things I’ve never tried before. I’m quite interested in East Asian culture, Chinese is my favourite subject at school. It’s a beautiful language and culture.”

FREYA, 19

“The first thing I did when I left school was breathe a sigh of relief! I mean I’m still in school but it’s a lot different now to what it used to be, I get to actually choose what I want to do. School is an interesting experience. I was always hiding myself but I don’t care anymore. I just get on with it. It helps to learn about yourself but when you leave it’s so much better. Most of my clothes aren’t mine. A lot of it comes from my family – they just hand it to me after they’ve worn it for 20 years. I give the items a few more years and I really hold onto them because they’re not my own. I have way too many hoodies, though. A lot of shops nowadays don’t give me what I’m looking for.”

OLIVIA, 18

“My favourite artist is Tracey Emin, she’s so different from all the others, so unique. My style’s interesting, sometimes it’s colourful but mostly it’s just different. I have so many clothes but my favourite item is this racing car jacket, it’s red and Budweiser. I thrift a lot and Kate Moss is my style icon. When I leave school I want to be happy, not doing anything specific, just living life.”

EMILY, 19

“The first thing I did when I left school was binge Freecycle for things I could put in my new house. My style is very chaotic, I wear a lot of layers. I like to wear skirts over trousers and then usually like two or three tops meshed into one, then like a tie or something. It’s usually just like materials that I find and drape them into various forms, whatever feels comfy. You know, I had been cutting my hair so much over lockdown that there just wasn’t a lot left, so that’s why I started on my brows. I wouldn’t even call them slits, they’re full-on gaps at this point.”

ASHLEY, 17

“My dream is to eventually become a musician because I like singing but the first thing I did when I left school was look for a job. I like all types of different clothing. Different, dark, and original. When I find things that I don’t usually wear I definitely try it on. My style icon is Lil Peep.”

JASPER, 19

“I wanna move back to Thailand but the first thing I wanna do when I leave school is get drunk – wait, what should I say? That was inappropriate. The first thing I wanna do when I leave school is travel Europe with my friends. Probably France or Italy. I’d describe my style as Japanese, earthy, and, erm, I dunno. The inspiration for my blue hair was from watching a lot of Anime, so yeah, but I first dyed my hair back in the summer of 2019. I bleached it and it almost fell out. I’ve found a better hairdresser since then.”

GABRIEL, 16

“I share my room with my sister, and it’s not that fun, so I’d like to go travelling. Maybe to Italy. I watched Call Me By Your Name when I was younger and it influenced me a lot. But David Bowie is a huge influence, too. Definitely his fashion. As I get older I’d like to get more into that glam rock kind of style. I wanna go into something creative eventually. Maybe become a lecturer. Or an artist.”

RHIANNA, 16

“I get inspiration from people with gothic outfits and I also love streetwear, even if I don’t wear it as much. I really like silver jewellery and wear loads. I watch a lot of makeup videos on YouTube, people like Eve Fraser. My style icon is Rui Gao on YouTube, her outfits are really good. When I grow up I want to be someone in a creative industry – maybe costume design or hair and makeup.”