Eugene Kan of Hypebeast interviews Jean Touitou, the founder of the French brand A.P.C., about raw denim, fashion in America, and the reluctance of Japanese brands to expand internationally. (link)

Have there been any particular cities or regions in the world beyond the normal associations such as Tokyo and Paris which have caught your interest on a fashion level?

Yes, probably Northern European cities, Copenhagen.

Scandinavian countries?

Yes, Scandinavian countries. Even small Scandinavian cities have a strong sense of inventive fashion.

Do you think it comes down to their culture?

Yes, that is a good point. Maybe it comes down to their capacity of accepting and they have a good educational system. From the very beginning they are educated in nice buildings. There is something about harmony that make them look well. There isn’t such a great reliance on brands when it comes to fashion.

Over the years, how would you say the A.P.C. aesthetic has changed or developed? Would you say it has been pretty consistent?

It has been mentally consistent where it hasn’t changed. It’s funny you’re asking me this… yesterday I was on Wyndham Street passing by some Japanese brands and I thought it was good that they sort of woke up and killed minimalism. Some sort of chic minimalism is SO boring. I’m really glad I’m out of that. It’s the most boring thing. I’m glad I did it 15 years ago, 10 years we looked in another direction in the clothing design and architecture of the store.

What are your current thoughts on the current popularity of American contemporary menswear brands?

There are quite a few good things to come from this. Thom Browne is doing a good job in shaping and proportions. Although in the US, they have too many problems with menswear, the American body is just impossible. It’s impossible to have a huge man look elegant, that’s why in Asia they’re usually more handsome because the proportions are better. In America, they are obsessed in sports. Sometimes you go to Los Angeles, big chest and broad shoulders with skinny legs. So I think that’s a problem in menswear. Second problem is pricing, there is some good stuff such as Thom Browne and Tom Ford but the price is much too expensive.

How does A.P.C. tackle the problem of sizing being a well-known international brand now?

Trying to have clothes ranging from Asia to America and Europe, it’s hard to have a huge range of sizes. That’s the most technically difficult aspect.

I think that seems a big problem for Japanese brands is sizing as well?

Japanese brands don’t expand because they’re really shy. There’s something about the mentality of Japanese people that I don’t get. I’m friends with Sophnet’s Hirofumi Kiyonaga, who used to be an assistant of mine in Tokyo. I told him please go to New York, take my showroom, you’re my brother and go and do business. But they don’t go… there’s something about Japanese people being really shy about worldwide business.

How do you feel about the statement about A.P.C. regarding “we make noise not clothes”?

It’s true but it’s not true. If you stop making news, you’re “dead”. Sometimes you need to make some news, under the radar noise. Not too loud but you do have to make some noise. It’s very hard to do and sometimes you need to be both within and outside fashion.

What kind of music do you listen to?

I listen a lot to Metronomy and French singers of the late 70s. Singers that I didn’t listen to at the time, probably because I was your age and at that time it was mostly The Ramones and The New York Dolls. I wasn’t ignorant to their music but it was impossible to pick up that there was good French pop at the time. They looked ridiculous and something I couldn’t register. I’m really amazed by Metronomy though and I’ve worked a little bit with them.

Could you speak a bit about your Butler series of denim?

My jeans are done in a very good denim. Some people like to wear it in its raw state and never like to wash it which I agree. So what I said, if you give me back your jeans after two years, I’ll exchange it for 60% off. I wash it very carefully, mend it carefully and put a little drawing inside and then sell it. Even if you tell your manufacturer, I want the must beautiful used/washed denim without any price limits, you’ll never imitate the beauty of personally worn denim. In England’s aristocratic period, they would never wear something brand new cause they would find it vulgar. So they would give it to their butler to wear. We tried to do this in Japan but it didn’t work. People want to keep them and preserve as a memorabilia keepsake. But it worked well in France, Scandinavia and America.

We’ve seen a steady move towards fast, accessible fashion such as H&M, Zara and Uniqlo among others, what are your thoughts on that and what effect does it have on a brand like A.P.C.?

It has no effect on A.P.C.. I respect those people cause they have a great sense of logistics and production. But sometimes I hate them because the quality they use is very poor and it is disrespectful to the masses. Sometimes you put something on from them and you stink cause the fiber they use makes you smell “wrong”. While there’s no denying they copy people for their looks, but the problem is they copy too quickly. Patterns aren’t well done and the cuts aren’t good. Their communications relative to their money should hire better photographers and art directors. They have a great capacity for product too bad their efforts are wasted on poor quality offerings. I really mean that but I have a huge respect for them, it’s like running a country what they do. But there’s a lack of thinking.

Read the full interview at HYPEBEAST.