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Jean Touitou: A Doable Utopia

9 months ago by

Jean Touitou’s brand, A.P.C., has been a favorite of mine for absolutely ever. And when I say ever, I mean it. I was 17 when I started saving my money to buy… well anything I could afford from his amazing brand. When it started, it was so revolutionary to me. Deep, cool, humble, fun, and super chic at the same time. It represented, exactly the woman that I wanted to be. Years later, A.P.C. is more than ever a part of our landscape and more than ever an island of quiet rebellion.

To understand the spirit behind such a cult brand, you have to meet it’s founder, the endlessly inspiring Jean Touitou.

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Jean Touitou: A Doable Utopia

Pardon My French with Garance Doré
Jean Touitou: A Doable Utopia

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On being a history teacher…
I was educated as a history teacher because I didn’t want to touch money because I thought money was disgusting and didn’t want to be a business person. I wanted to have the look of a teacher, it was nice to me. Gray suit, white shirt, little suitcase, taking the train. But then I realized it was not fun at all!

On activism today…
I’m surprised there is no more activism now. The conditions for me to be an activist then are much worse now. The difference between the poor and the rich are huge now, much bigger than they used to be. The working class today has no margin of error in their money. I’m surprised no one is a communist anymore.

On capitalism…
I’m not against capitalism. To be against capitalism is like to be against the rain; there is nothing you can do. Maybe establishing rules. We should establish a rule that no yacht owner should have a yacht longer than 100 feet. Mine is 44 feet and I’d be so happy with 60 feet. 100 feet seems huge enough. There is no limit. I’m just saying we need a doable utopia.

Jean Touitou: A Doable Utopia

On the days of CBGB in NYC…
The Bowery used to have this club, CBGB, it was not only young people posing and pretending to be suicidal. There was real music, poetry and real artistic action against the existing system of show business and if I may say, corporate rock and roll. If you listened carefully to people performing there, it was very interesting. No musician could play like the Ramones could play. I don’t want to enter into details of musicology, but believe me!

On deciding to do fashion on his own…
I wasn’t satisfied. After Kenzo, I did Agnès B., which I started in America, and then I did my own brand with a Japanese designer, named Irie. I’m still friends with all of them, I just got sick of all the big prints. I learned a lot with Kenzo about the process of print but I wanted something extremely radical, which is when I started A.P.C.

On financing A.P.C….
I financed A.P.C. and had no family money, but by designing and producing clothes for big brands that couldn’t do it by themselves. I know leopard print skinny pants and that has fueled all of my military outfits for men and very strict outfits for woman, these were financed by my capacity of making what is called “sexy” clothes, which I find such a turnoff, but I may be a pervert, but I don’t think I am. The idea of sexiness in today’s world is a total turnoff. But it has been useful to create money.

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On e-commerce…
I wanted to be more aggressive in the business because it costs a lot of money to open stores, so I thought we could sell more on e-commerce. But there is something strange and saddening to me, the more you want to do business on e-commerce, the more ugly your website has to be!

On wisdom…
Wisdom is if you’re a sailor and the weather report tells you can go, but maybe you stay in the harbor. Or, if you’re a very well-trained boxer and there is a fight in the bar and it could be exciting to destroy everyone, but instead, just keep away from it. I think it’s much nicer to try and have a quieter life, which can guarantee your inspiration. That’s the key thing.

On walking as work…
If you work too much, you might lose your fresh ideas. We are workaholics, we just don’t need to be at the studio all the time. If you’re a walker, you know that when you walk, a lot of ideas come. I walk a lot in the morning and at night, and that’s still working, it’s just a more peaceful way to work than being behind your computer. I prefer to be that way where the ideas come from the very bottom of you, and not superficially.

On collaborating with people…
It’s not that easy to collaborate and keep a friendship happening. Because at the end of the day, these guys send their bills! But, I happen to be friends with a lot of people we work with and I love them to challenge us and find things to say about our collection we would not have found ourselves. And that’s maybe one of the secrets of the longevity of our brand. We consider ourselves in need of other people. I’m happy to say people are influential and we have people working with us and we’re proud of it.

Jean Touitou: A Doable Utopia

Other things discussed…
Aesop’s Post-Poo Drops
Pantelleria
Ramones
CBGB

Be sure to check out A.P.C. Transmission, celebrating 30 years of the brand! You can also follow the brand on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

17 comments

Add yours
  • LOL @ the humble brag on the yacht

  • Big fan of APC. The APC standard jean is my very favorite. And a very great company to deal with. The staff is sophisticated and knowledgeable. A delight!

  • “I’m surprised there is no more activism now.” Well, maybe not in the 44 feet yacht world, but believe me THERE iS!!

  • Je suis tout à fait d accord avec vous Anna : parler de la limite de la longueur du yacht me choque un peu (beaucoup) , Jean Touitou ne semble plus très en phase avec le monde

  • <3

  • Very interesting

  • “To be against capitalism is like to be against the rain; there is nothing you can do.” Feudalism must have felt this way too. This is how ideology functions.

  • Looove this interview. I have worked in the Fashion Industry for a while and I always thought that everyone was the same (presumptuos-devil-wears-prada like) but it made me feel better to see someone doing things different. It was very inspiring!

    Paola

    http://couragepassion.com

  • Looove this interview. I have worked in the Fashion Industry for a while and I always thought that everyone was the same (presumptuos-devil-wears-prada like) but it made me feel better to see someone doing things different. It was very inspiring!

    Paola

  • To say there is no activism is really an elitist opinion! To see activism you have to be open and available to activists. Great interview!
    Jandrew
    Dress The Part
    http://www.jandrewspeaks.com

  • “Sur la sagesse…
    Si tu es marin et que la météo te dit que tu peux sortir en mer, tu resteras peut-être au port… c’est ça, la sagesse. Si tu es un super boxeur hyper entraîné, et que tu assistes à une rixe dans un bar… même si t’as envie de te servir de tes poings, tu décideras peut-être de rester à l’écart. Je trouve ça plus agréable de tendre vers une vie paisible, qui vous permet d’être inspiré. Parce que c’est ça, le plus important”.

    Merci Jean Touitou pour ces paroles si nourrissantes. Cela fait beaucoup de bien.

  • OMG great interview! Jean said so many things that ring true!

  • Jean Touitou is very refreshing. I think he brings up an interesting perspective. I love the concept of how much is enough. Why do we have to work harder to achieve something beyond necessary. Also to mend things. I is such a simple concept.

  • Je suis prof dans un lycée parisien sinistre, et pourtant j’espère chaque jour arriver en cours avec allure, notamment lors des beaux jours avec un sac en toile APC-Cahiers du cinéma que je chéris plus que tout. J’adore mon travail: le lieu pourri auquel on fait prendre de la hauteur, les élèves plein de clichés qui apprennent à réfléchir. Bref, les remarques de Jean Touitou sur son passé de prof (ce n’est pas la première fois que je le lis là dessus et à chaque fois que je suis affligée) et son “utopie réaliste” sur la taille des yachts me laissent sans voix: de la bêtise crasse autosatisfaite qui reconduit le cliché du monde de la mode qui ne sait plus ni penser ni parler ni voir le monde.

  • The charm on the last picture is breathtaking!!!

    Thank you for reminding what kind of woman I want to become!

  • https://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/01/28/apc-founder-jean-touitou-n-word_n_6559556.html

    Not a supporter since this. Funny how he thinks there’s no activism.

  • Really interesting article!

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