Oft-copied tech apparel brand, ACRONYM, has fallen victim to yet another round of imitation, this time from serial copycat Zara. The Spanish fast fashion giant has begun incorporating a “functional strap” into the insides of its some of its coats, which bear a label that reads: “Interior crossbodystrap allows wearer to carry over their shoulder.” If this garment element sounds familiar, that is likely because it has been a signature of Berlin-based ACRONYM for over a decade.
A double-strap backpack-style version has existed "for ages" - according to ACRONYM co-founder Errolson Hugh - namely in connection with hunting gear and has been adopted by Helmut Lang and Rick Owens (Zara is offering one of these for sale, as well). However, the single strap "JacketSling" style – which enables the wearer to carry the jacket diagonally over his shoulder/back as a crossbody – was introduced by ACRONYM in 2003 (thereby predating Rick Owens' and Nike's more recent adoptions of this style) and has become a staple element in all of the brand’s jackets.
ACRONYM's limited distribution channels and low-key profile (the brand does not engage in traditional advertising) paired with its high price points, kept it almost completely off the layman’s radar until somewhat recently - which is why Zara waited until now to copy the brand. The masses have come to know of ACRONYM particularly in recent years as a result of Hugh’s partnerships with Stone Island and Nike; Hugh teamed up with the Oregon-based sportswear giant to redesign the ACG collection.
Moreover, the crossbody jacket styling grabbed the attention of millions when rapper Kanye West wore an ACRONYM jacket on stage during a Governor’s Ball 2013 concert. Since then, menswear and streetwear sites have been abuzz about the specific styling and the ACRONYM brand in general, although it had already been on the radar of those in the known since Hugh and his business partner, Michaela Sachenbacher, released the brand's first product in 2002.
This is hardly the first time ACRONYM has been copied. Just one example: For her S/S 2014 collection for Gucci, former creative director Frida Giannini showed some techy sportswear, including a jacket that strongly mirrored one that ACRONYM introduced for Fall 2007 and revived beginning in Fall 2010.
To date, Hugh has been lighthearted about other brands' imitations of his designs, noting in connection with the Gucci case, "I've been ripped off by a lot of designers and brands." This is almost certainly because the level of quality and of technical capabilities associated with ACRONYM's garments - the majority of which include years of research and development - are completely unrivaled by the subsequent copies. Unlike the real thing (ACRONYM's GT-J5A jacket), Gucci's S/S 2014 knockoff did not come with the 3-Layer Gore-Tex Pro Shell with Gore Micro Grid Backer Technology.
The same can be said for any jacket coming from a fast fashion retailer. It is also safe to assume that while ACRONYM garments are "built for maximized ruggedness and are ideal for extreme and extended use," fast fashion-quality ones simply are not.
As for Hugh's thoughts on the Zara copy? He simply said: "LOL."