ALbert Kriemler is a designer who has quietly built his Switzerland-based, ultra-luxe label into a significant business with estimated revenues in excess of €250 million. Now distributed worldwide, through over 600 doors, Akris has particular traction in the American department store market thanks to its elegant yet unfussy aesthetic, and, in its early years in the US market, strong backing from Neiman Marcus.
Kriemler joined the family business — which was started by his grandmother, Alice Kriemler-Schoch who began by selling polka-dot aprons in 1922 – in 1980. When he was just 20, Kriemler’s father Max, who was in charge of the company, asked his son to help Akris’ studio transition after the death of his right hand man. Kriemler had been about to travel from his hometown of St. Gallen in Switzerland, to Paris for fashion school (and an apprenticeship at Givenchy’s atelier). Kriemler never left and in 1987, his brother, Peter joined him and took on the management of the business.
In the three and a half decades since, Kriemler has built Akris into what The Financial Times dubbed “the most successful label you’ve never heard of.” Known for its couture-quality materials — Kriemler once told W magazine that he simply “cannot work with cheap fabrics” — and commitment to craftsmanship, Akris has won over customers for well-fitted, wearable pieces that blend ultra-luxe with ultra-functionality. The brand has developed a reputation for dressing powerful women who want to look sleek, without standing out as too high fashion, and can count Princess Charlene of Monaco, former US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice and actress Angelina Jolie amongst its clients. In 2004, it was invited to join the Fédération Française de la Couture, du Prêt-à-Porter des Couturies et des Créateurs de Mode – one of only a few non-French brands to have received such an honour.
In the past, Akris’ minimalistic designs, inspired by modernist architecture, were reported as the best selling brand at Bergdorf Goodman, outperforming Armani, Chanel and Calvin Klein . The brand launched its own e-commerce platform in 2012 and this year entered the Chinese market, opening three boutiques in Shanghai.