Do you know what strikes fear in the heart of every fashion journalist? It's the designer interview where every word, every quote, every utterance is so safe, guarded, and on-message that you want to fling yourself off the nearest building. Here at Hint, we call these the "I Design for Today's Woman" interviews. (What does that even mean? Do other designers make clothes for 1912's woman?) Mercifully, and mercilessly, A.P.C.'s Jean Touitou is no such interviewee. Here he is shortly before the launch of his new store in New York's West Village, unloading what will surely become controversial quips...
"I'm sorry to say there's too much corruption involved in Fashion Week. I won't take part in it. My days are very full doing what I'm doing. I don't want to deal with model agencies. Power conversations with model bookers makes me sick. Those people, they talk to you as if you've known them for 40 years, but you don't know them at all."
"I do not belong to celebrity culture. If people only knew what actresses are paid to sit in the front row at the shows in Milan or Paris, they would want to kill somebody. If they only knew 10% of what's going on, like brands that give bags away to young actresses and tell them to go in that restaurant on that day and leave the restaurant at 15 past 2:00, and hold the bag up for the paparazzi that will be there. This is a fact."
"If you're a young actress, it's now expected that once you start making it you'll receive a bag from Chanel. It's become a rite of passage. And it works, it's huge publicity for them. But at some point what's sad about it is that the very famous Chanel bag 2.55—which I really love, my grandmother had one and my mother had one—is all over the place. I can't look at them anymore."
"It seems the people who run the luxury industry have lost all sense of luxury. Céline in ready-to-wear I think still has a sense of luxury. But if you go to Hermès and you ask the salesgirl for a notebook in box-calf, she won't know what you're talking about. It's a type of leather and if you work at Hermès you should know it like runs in your veins. And they only have ugly colors."
"The Chinese can manufacture well, but I think they are the new fascists. I have to face it everyday. Since they have all this cash, they buy up raw materials, all the commodities, so if you want to buy cotton it's already been bought. If I want ten tons of cotton from Egypt, the guy will say, "I'm sorry, it's all sold. You have to talk to Mr. Chong." And of course Mr. Chong has raised the price. It's very bad. It's like a war. It's like we've entered an economic war. I'm not kidding. It's not a conspiracy theory."
"I don't know why designers want to show big spectacles in China. You go there and you get so depressed. There's no culture, nothing. The streets are ugly and people do not know how to dress themselves. You go to India and you find all these inspiring people to look at. You go to China and want to kill yourself. That's not very nice to say but those people are taking over the resources of the planet and we cannot do or say anything because they have all the cash. I'm a bit hysterical over China, but I'm sure I'm right. I'm committed now to wearing Scottish knitwear. I consider it a political statement. It's not even that much more expensive than Chinese knits and it lasts a lot longer."
"I hate fast-fashion chains. Those people are very gifted at doing massive things, but what I hate is they have no problem stealing intellectual property. And when they do it, they are very clever. They decide to knock you off, then they'll trademark the design. If you have enough time and money you could sue, but even a small brand like mine could spend €300,000 a year in legal fees and only make some of it back. And you don't want to exert so much bad energy."