When thinking of understated, minimal men’s and women’s clothing with that hard-to-define effortless something, the name Atelier de Production et de Création, or A.P.C., is one that immediately springs to mind. Jean Touitou started the label in 1987 as a reaction to what he saw as the loud, money-focused, gaudy mood of the ’80s. An idealist and revolutionary who had fallen somehow unexpectedly into fashion in the late ’70s, Touitou, born in Tunisia and raised in Paris, was looking for a movement and couldn’t find one, so he decided to create an alternative to what he saw around him. Relying more upon his gut instincts and amalgamating his genuine interests (such as music) and friends into the mix rather than following a more traditional business approach, Jean Touitou’s A.P.C. has established a somewhat timeless chic that has continued to resonate some 23 years, now with a whole new generation appreciating the brand and new stores opening in New York and Paris this year. Those are the words of Fraser Cooke, who recently conducted this interview with Jean Touitou, founder of popular contemporary label A.P.C.
So, hi Jean. Let’s go all the way back to the beginning. How did you find yourself in this business, and what was going on in your life preceding that?
I became involved strictly by accident. I just wanted to join a group of people doing things differently from what I could see around me in Paris back then. So by chance I bump into some people who were working at Kenzo, and that was in ’77 or ’78. There was a very raw unsophisticated energy there in those days and whatever those people would have done, I would have joined them. It was that simple.
So what was it that was so different about this crew that drew you to them at the time?
Well, let’s say I was a bit disappointed because revolution didn’t happen, like from ’68 to ’76, and I was more than annoyed by that. I finished my studies and had wanted to be a history teacher, because I didn’t want to be involved with money. I had this complex of all my friends being sons of professors or architects and my father was a merchant. I thought working for money was somehow filthy or something.
Not so noble?
TOUITOU: Yeah, all of my friends’ parents were publishers, lawyers, teachers, and it seemed a cleaner path to be a teacher somehow. But that wasn’t an option either because you had to take the train at six in the morning going far into the suburbs, which I didn’t fancy . . . So instead I went around South America in a car for one year and then I got back to Paris . . . And I wasn’t so crazy back then, taking drugs or anything like some were, but all I knew was that I just didn’t want to be around boring people. And this bunch were acting crazy but still doing a legitimate business around this Japanese fellow named Kenzo, and I wanted to join that crew whether they were doing yogurt or architecture or shoes. The vibe was attractive. And I said, “Let me do anything you want. I’ll do it.”
Catch the rest of this intriguing interview here.