From humble beginnings as a small atelier specialising in designer denim, A.P.C. has enjoyed a three-decade-long career that has become known for high-quality men’s and women’s apparel, and heirloom-worthy leather accessories. The type of pieces that you’d keep forever, A.P.C. designs are minimal, timeless and casually elegant, and they’re internationally coveted for their distinct French style.
Here at Incu, we’ve had the pleasure of a longstanding partnership with A.P.C., having opened a number of the brand’s Australian retail spaces.
We caught up with A.P.C.’s founder, Jean Touitou, to talk all things food, fashion, and how he’s readjusting to the new normal in a time of uncertainty.
Jean on what he’s up to right now...
Without looking at a clock, do you know what time it is right now?
I know exactly what time it is all the time at anytime. It must be 9:25 a.m. Check: 9:35. Oh, bummer.
Okay, now a serious question. Are you using this time to reminisce about the past, or are you always thinking about what needs to happen next?
I have to maintain a boat on the water. That is what I’m doing. We have emergencies. Landlords want their rents, suppliers need to be paid. My Jedis have asked me to focus on writing some feelings and analyses so I can send letters to everyone within our community every week.
Most importantly, I am working on some sort of A.P.C. manifesto, but it’s going to be titled differently. It’s about very personal perceptions since I was 15 years old and how to deal with the new times. I need to be done with it before the end of the week. And today is Wednesday.
What are you grateful for right now?
I am happy that I can cook. Also I can play guitar; and I can stretch my body without a coach on a computer screen.
Overall, I must say that I am not unbalanced by this whole thing. The world of yesterday, to me, wasn’t right at all, by any means. I sort of feel at home in this disorder.
Jean talking music...
What records are you playing now?
I listen to Kraftwerk a lot. I intend to print their lyrics. I love the way they write their lyrics. I will try to do a short essay on that. I also focus on Brahms a bit. “Nowhere Man” is the Beatles song I sing and play every time I can practise it. I use a 12-string acoustic. It hurts my fingers but sounds like a whole band.
Do you start the day with music?
No, I do not. I start the day with coffee and cooking lunch early, because I hate to stop myself doing something around 11:00am because I’m on kitchen duties.
Jean on isolation...
What is it like being separated from the Atelier for so long?
It’s torturous. It’s painful. It is so much more work than in the world of yesterday.
Just picture yourself structuring and designing pre-fall 21 in a house that isn’t yours. With all the uncertainties that are out there (uncertainties about everything from fabrics to factories reopening or not, etc.).
What’s on your work from home desk? Is it organised chaos? Or planned and tidy?
It’s a large dinner table. Fancy stationery and different colours of wax to seal my letters. There are fabric swatches on the wall on small white square pieces of paper; it’s a well-organised mess, but it’s not beautiful enough to shoot. I am not in a house we own. It’s a house that was lent to us. I do not like how it looks. There’s no way I’ll show it. When it makes me sad, I just say to myself that I’m better off right here than in Paris.
Before quarantine, what were you working on?
Conceiving a 46-foot boat for my future trips around Greece and doing paperwork for my agricultural company in Pantelleria. I will produce capers. I’m still working on those two things. I was also working on interaction projects that I cannot disclose.
It goes without saying that we are curious. What are you wearing at home?
I often wear a formal jacket. This makes me feel like a general in the war room. I often wear a printed scarf on my head; it helps me to get focused. The ideas remain in my brain when I tie a scarf around my head. Today, I’m wearing A.P.C. x Kanye jeans, a black cotton polo and a light sweater, and a pearl necklace.
Jean talking food...
What are you cooking? Do you follow a recipe or improvise?
This question is way too vast. One cannot improvise in heavy weather circumstances. One spends sooo much time in the kitchen. It’s got to be hit-and-run type cooking. There are three of us cooking, including chef Pierre T.
Cooking isn’t the issue, because we are good at it. Supplies are the issue in a lockdown economy. Good vegetables are hard to get, very much so. Fish is impossible to find. One is stuck with vacuum-packed salmon from a health food store. Divine it isn’t.
What is essential in your kitchen?
At least five different vinegars, and oh well a lot of ingredients. It’s important to also have Asian ingredients, so one can slightly travel. French and Italian tastes are great, but I need Asian breaks two times a week.
Your favourite/go-to meal right now in isolation?
Mlochria (you need to do a little research here). *Incu editor’s note: as someone with Egyptian heritage, this is our national dish! A soup made of soaked mallow leaves in a warm broth.*
And also anything slow-cooked.
What is an everyday item you can’t live without?
What are you looking forward to once quarantine is over?
It won’t be over for a long, long time. I miss being on a boat for a short plunge trip, followed by coffee ice cream from the ice cream truck by the little harbour.
Jean with some very French advice…
Finally, do you have any advice we can find useful in this time?
Avoid breakfast; just have a coffee with a small fruit. The brain needs a little bit of sugar to get started. Avoiding breakfast makes me feel almost high when I write. I know it’s tasty. I mean salty butter on toasted country bread, what can beat that? But it isn’t necessary. In these quarantine days, gaining weight is something we shall avoid by any means. This is very, very, very good advice. Trust me on this. Two meals a day are plenty. OK, just one apple break if one faints.