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Smooth Operator


In the kind of paradox more worthy of theoretical physics than fashion, it’s simultaneously hard and easy to believe French fashion label A.P.C. has been around for over three decades, despite that making perfect sense. The brand is, after all, the very definition of chic utilitarianism – and what’s more consistently on trend than that, even 20 years into the ‘new’ millennium? As a brand, it is both effortlessly timeless and a true encapsulation of the zeitgeist.


Founded in 1987 by French-Tunisian designer Jean Touitou and unisex from the word go (see what we mean about the timeless-zeitgeist paradox?), even its name was chosen for function over fabulousness. ‘Without production, creation remains at the idea stage,’ Touitou has said. ‘And without creation, a garment will have no soul.’


Hence, The Atelier de Production et de Création (Production and Creation Workshop), or A.P.C. which, to this day pairs elegance with utility in a way that, according to many fashion insiders, is unrivalled across the industry.


Exhibit one: A.P.C.’s raw denim jeans for men and women. Not only have they long been a cult wear for denim aficionados, they were the inspiration for Hedi Slimane’s famed noughties Dior Homme collection, from which countless other homages were spawned.


Exhibit two: the current colab with Carhartt WIP which sees the return of the brands’ previous successful partnerships in 2011 and 2013. As capsule collections go, it’s pretty much the definition of the A.P.C. approach – perfectly edited, perfectly practical and perfectly realised, with nothing superfluous to requirements (give or take a couple of pieces of jewellery, but even minimalists need a little bling now and then, right?).

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Elsewhere, the SS20 collection reaffirms A.P.C.’s original identity with beige and khaki monochrome outfits, small printed dresses and coats worn with socks and sandals – plus, of course, denim. Even the slogans, playful as they are (‘Naively Conceptual’, ‘Poetic Persistence’), are executed with the kind of tasteful restraint we’ve all come to expect from the brand, to the degree that one – ‘Radically Minimal’ – seems particularly tongue-in-cheek.


Such authenticity (another tick to the zeitgeist right there) has served A.P.C. well: while the label’s design studio and workshop remain – as they always have been – based in Paris, the brand boasts over 70 international stores, including its flagship London one at Coal Drops Yard. And while the in-store experience may currently be on hold, all the brand’s collections – including that box-fresh collaboration with Carhartt WIP and another very on point pairing with Japanese footwear brand Suicoke – are available to explore online.


And if you really want to get at the heart of the brand, now is the perfect time to dig deep into its epic, 544-page book, Transmission. Published to celebrate 30 years of A.P.C in 2017, it’s an insight into the story of both brand and founder – via collages, extracts and an exhaustive catalogue of images – and features the clothes, objects, images, places, music, and events that were most significant in the world according to Touitou from the preceding three decades.


‘When I try to define my craft, I start to think that I developed something that’s also my own expression tool,’ writes Touitou in the introduction. ‘This tool is A.P.C.’


Discover the collections at www.apc.fr/wwuk


This is an edited version of an article that first appeared in the Spring 2020 edition of King’s Cross Quarterly magazine. Words: Stephen Emms.

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