The A.P.C. brand is known for its minimalist inclinations. Whilst New-Gen designers like Molly Goddard, Mimi Wade and Ashish might be all about sparkly, maximalist creations, the appeal of minimalist designs focusing on cut and detail is timeless. Arguably, A.P.C. paved the way for this devil-in-the-details approach. During his 30 years at the helm of the brand, Jean Touitou has perfected the art of minimalism, creating beautifully cut and immaculately thought-out pieces.
To the naked eye, not much has changed at A.P.C. since the debut “Hiver 87” collection in, you guessed it, Winter 1987. The coats have become sharper, the jeans slimmer and the bags even more beautiful, but in terms of motifs, A.P.C. have consistently honed a certain “look”. To celebrate the 30th anniversary of the brand this season, Phaidon has released a book titled ‘Transmission”, delving into the history of the brand. Openly acknowledging the fact the book will forever be referred to as the “A.P.C book”, the tome is a de facto anthology of everything A.P.C.. To celebrate the release of “Transmission”, we combed through the book and selected the quotes and images that every fan of minimalism should know. After reading the book, we can confidently say: Touitou is a genius. Mad. But a genius.
1. ‘‘At some point in 2013, I decided that I needed to explain the collections. The models would pass by and I would simply try and evoke some sort of inspirational energy that the clothes were holding.’’
A focus on the people wearing the clothes — whether that’s a model or an individual customer — has always been an integral part of A.P.C.. The brand is synonymous with the “perfect” jumper, coat and pair of jeans, allowing their devoted customers to take such staples and make them their own. Or, in Touitou’s much more poetic words, it allows the wearer to harness the garment’s “inspirational energy” (a very Marie Kondo-esque “joy sparking” turn of phrase, I’m sure you’ll agree).
2. “By telling this guy all about my early years, I realised how my time in a revolutionary party has influenced my spirit and aesthetics…This look back at my communist years, and of course back at 1968, reminds me of how great looking the ‘activists’ were.’’
A one-time communist, Touitou’s early political inclinations are evident throughout his work. The clothes are simple, almost uniform-like, turning to wearers into a sort of A.P.C army. The militant and simple style complements Touitou’s workmanship beautifully, and make us very grateful that he dabbled in radicalism.
3. ‘‘We shook hands twenty-seven years ago, no contract no nothing, and he kept his word.’’
A.P.C. jeans are iconic for a multitude of reasons. The fabric is sourced from Hiroshima, Japan, a.k.a. the motherland of denim, although the identity of their exact supplier (who Touitou is referring to in the quote above) remains shrouded in mystery. Denim jeans have been a mainstay at A.P.C. throughout nearly every collection, perhaps because they combine the quality of Japanese denim with a slim-fitting and flattering shape. And you don’t have to be a Japanese denim connoisseur to tell that the difference in quality from your average high-street jeans is vast. A.P.C.’s style of raw denim, originally salavaged from production of other jeans, has influenced countless designers. Indeed, the likes of Marques Almeida and Vetements have both following suit with the raw look in recent collections.
4. “We work like archivists, digging into our own past.’’
Art can’t be totally separated from the subjectivity of its creator, and this insight from the king of minimalism offers a glimpse into the origins of A.P.C.’s unique take on style. Fans who are curious to discover more examples of how Touitou has mined his own experience(beyond drawing inspiration from communism and his family) for A.P.C. should definitely give “Transmission” a read.
5. ‘‘I am not a genius who works alone late at night, surrounded by worshippers who never eat…I wouldn’t be leading anything if there was no pack’’
The A.P.C. pack is small but fiercely loyal, and Touitou constantly references how instrumental his team have been in making A.P.C. into what it is today. Mostly staying out of the limelight, the only well-known member of the pack is long-time contributor, collaborator and confidante Judith Touitou, Jean’s wife. The early images in the book show the couples’ main sources of inspiration, proving that Judith and Jean’s visions were equally important in the formation of A.P.C..
6. ‘‘I often look at my mother’s choices of clothing in my archives. They resist the passage of time. She had good taste. I was always very annoyed that she would find my collections too ‘dark-dark-navy-only’.’’
Is it at all surprising to learn that Touitou’s mother was the height of minimalist chic? In the video below, you can hear him elaborate on the simplicity of her wardrobe and what it truly means to be chic. The stereotypical effortless dress sense of the “french woman” has undoubtedly inspired the A.P.C. brand.
7. ‘‘Why do people only show part of the female body overdetermined to trigger men’s sexual desire, even more so when we all know that one look can be enough?’’
How refreshing is it to hear a designer (in particular, a male designer) acknowledging that being sexy is about so much more than being sexualised? Certainly, many designers could stand to learn this lesson (not naming any names). In an industry which is often hellbent on turning women into objects, and women’s bodies into projects to be worked on, A.P.C.’s approach still feels refreshing. Touitou started the brand after losing his suitcase in Barcelona and being unable to find good clothes. That’s the baseline of A.P.C. — they sell clothes, not sex, and that’s rarer in this industry than you think.
8. ‘‘In the contest for edginess, you only win if you die being edgy.’’
… Manufacture this in 8ft-high neon letters and install it outside of Berghain.