A.P.C. Founder Jean Touitou Talks to GQ on Normcore, The Secret To His Success and Why He Doesn’t Give a F*ck About Other Denim Brands
By Samuel Trotman

A.P.C. Founder Jean Touitou Talks to GQ on Normcore, The Secret To His Success, and Why He Doesn’t Give a F*ck About Other Denim Brands.

Nov 17, 2014
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The often outspoken founder of A.P.C. Jean Touitou recently spoke with GQ magazine spanning several compelling topics ranging from A.P.C.’s success, why they introduced stretch denim, what he thinks about being called normcore, and just how often the man who started it all washes his own New Standards. The whole interview can be seen here while select questions are seen below.

 

How has the denim industry changed since you founded A.P.C. in 1987?

I don’t look at the denim industry. It’s not interesting to me.

You don’t look at what any other brands are doing at all?

No. No, because that is not interesting to me. If I were a customer, I would do a survey about the brands that are out there. Why should I look at that if I am doing it myself? A baker makes his own bread. He doesn’t go to the other bakeries for bread.

Don’t you want to know how other people are trying to do denim better than you?

I don’t want to know how other people are trying to knock me off. That’s a bit disturbing. But I don’t give a fuck. I don’t care. There’s nothing that could make me jealous. Sometimes if there are good jeans I see, the price is not correct. I believe you not only need a good cut and good fabric, but the price has to be human. Otherwise, I could do tons of incredible things. But if the price is not human, the mission is not accomplished. The same thing goes for bags for women. Anybody with a regular amount of talent can do a beautiful dress. Okay, maybe not anybody, let’s say 100 people on the planet. But if these dresses are three or four thousand dollars, it’s only going to be possible to buy for a very small elite of the world. Frankly, even if I have the means to buy a pair of jeans for $1000 dollars, I wouldn’t do so, because nothing about that is appealing to me.

What are the things you do that separate you from other brands?

It’s the cut and quality of the fabric. Nobody can compete. There is nowhere else that people can find this denim. Also, this fabric has a special recipe that has been put together by me and the weavers back in the day in Japan. The weaver is a real samurai, and he doesn’t give the secret to anybody. He has a long line of people who ask, “Can we have the A.P.C. fabric?” and he will answer, “No! I gave them my word!” There is something secret in our fabric that nobody knows. Even I try to forget the secret so I’m not tempted to reveal it to anyone.

What made you want to introduce stretch denim into the collection?

Well, I needed more comfort for myself maybe. In the past, stretch denim hasn’t been so good and I think the stretch we do ads comfort. I’m not a militant of the tiny pants trend for men. Also, the stretch denim falls nicely.

You mentioned how bad jeans can smell if you won’t wash them for a long time, but A.P.C.’s care guide tells people to not wash them for a very long time. How often do you wash your jeans?

It’s totally hypocritical of me. When I go into my closet, I have a pile of five jeans that are numbered one through five in Roman numerals, because I don’t want to wear the same pair too many times. But whenever they start to smell a bit, I wash them in the machine but with cold water and very little detergent. And I use Woolite so the soap doesn’t attack the textile.

You mentioned how bad jeans can smell if you won’t wash them for a long time, but A.P.C.’s care guide tells people to not wash them for a very long time. How often do you wash your jeans?

It’s totally hypocritical of me. When I go into my closet, I have a pile of five jeans that are numbered one through five in Roman numerals, because I don’t want to wear the same pair too many times. But whenever they start to smell a bit, I wash them in the machine but with cold water and very little detergent. And I use Woolite so the soap doesn’t attack the textile.

On a more general note, during your last men’s presentation you said that you’re over minimalism. For someone who’s followed A.P.C. for a while, I’ve always known the brand and described the brand as “minimal,” so this seems like a bit of a drastic departure.

But when you work as much as we work, if we were only minimalists, we would be on holiday six months of the year. The simple things we create are not minimal to achieve. There’s a difference between what is now called “normcore” and simplicity. Simplicity is quite sublime. But you can use ornamentation on beautiful things. Beauty and simplicity can also have ornamentation. But in order for something to be truly sublime, it has to be simple. That’s a hell of a pretentious statement, but hey, I’m 62 so I can say this now.

You also said you don’t want A.P.C. to be known as “The House of Normcore.”

Well, I got sick of all these new names. Normcore is not what we do. The thing about men’s fashion is, if you push too much on the fashion button, the guy will end up looking ridiculous. A guy that looks too fashionable is not sexy for even one quarter of a second. All girls will tell you this, and all gay men will tell you the same. It’s very difficult to do men’s fashion, because you know aggressive fashion will be ridiculous. But it doesn’t mean you do basic minimalism. I know it’s a hard thing to understand, but it’s the truth.

 


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