et tu, A.P.C.?

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I love my new shirt. I like the hefty yet soft cotton, the lack of a placket (I've read that no placket = more formal but actually it reminds me of pajamas, which I find charming), the hidden top button which created a neat look when fastened, the shape of the collar, the muted colours that remind me of a 70s kitchen. I loved that the shoulders fit mine perfectly, and that it was lean but roomy. I liked that it had real mother-of-pearl buttons, cool when you touch it to your lip (the things you learn from GQ).

I wish this post was just that, about a pretty new shirt, but it's not.

I don't own a lot of A.P.C. even though I've loved the brand since my university years (that's about 8, 9 years now?). It's expensive for me, and much as I love the aesthetic I know in my heart it's not always worth the money. Still, I like the branding, I like the style, I like that it hasn't had to change its style too much and it still thrives as a business. And the shirts, for me, have always been nicely made and worth the splurge.

When I bought my shirt in Paris, I noticed the label said "Made in Tunisia", and decided to Google around and see if I could find more about A.P.C.'s manufacturing practices. I know it's too simplistic to judge by the "Made In XX" label alone (there are sweatshops in Italy staffed by illegal immigrants too), but I was curious, and these days it's always interesting to see what turns up.

Well, I didn't anything, so I'm unenlightened on that front. But I found this interview of A.P.C. founder Jean Touitou, which left me with a bad taste in my mouth.

Some parts, I found myself nodding along -

"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."

Other parts, I did not -

"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."

The ignorance and lack of sensitivity behind this statement upsets me. To say something like that, without even seeming to consider the reason behind WHY people "do not know how to dress themselves", is breathtakingly offensive. I take it he has no idea that Mao Zedong killed a millenia of Chinese culture with his brutal regime and turned into a wasteland of poverty, corruption and artistic death.

And his response is to wear Scottish knitwear. When he manufactures in China, India, Tunisia, Poland, Romania? Has he ever listened to himself speak?

There are cities in China that are grim and depressing - I remember passing through Taiyuan, a heavy industry city and being shocked by the pollution and the poor urban planning. But he seems to be putting down an entire country based on aesthetics, and that is distasteful, without appreciating the socio-political context in the first place. And what does that comparison with India even mean?

If Jean Touitou wants to make statements about globalisation and capitalist economics, he has to do better than this. As such, he's just left me feeling depressed that I spent all these years admiring his brand and his business, and paying good money for his clothes.

What happens when you love the clothes, but can't reconcile that love with the creator and his beliefs?

Comments

Anonymous said…
Hi, thanks for sharing this article. I am a recent convert to APC and love how classic and well-made the clothes are. Touitou's statement seems to me reflective of the wide chasm in cultural and political ideologies of the West and rising China. It seems to me that the latter is eager to learn as much about the former as it can in the bid to estb itself as a future superpower while the former is stuck in a certain mud of former glories, wanting to ignore China and India, but not being able to. I agree with you that Touitou did appear shallow in his observations in the interview and wish he could have shown more sensitivity. I thought the comment about wering Scottish knitwear was stupidity at its best...whatever was the relevance?? Anyhow, though, I am not sure if I had reached the point of having difficulty reconciling love for a brand with the beliefs of its designer. To me, largely, clothes are simply clothes. They fulfil the basic necessity of covering up and of course, fulfil my stylistic whims. Although I must admit that the only time I allowed this beliefs to get in the way was with my Cheap Monday jeans...I actually gave them away after finding out that the upside-down crucifix sign on the logo skull was meant to be a statement against Christians. Perhaps religiosity is the only exception I will make for the case :)
Camille said…
I am shocked by how ignorant and narrow-minded his comment is. I very much like APC and the quality of the few items I have from the brand, but am having ethical trouble with the way I go through to procure myself said items (on extreme sale at Urban Outfitters), and now with their designer. Still, I have no answer, as so far, APC clothes satisfy more criterias on the whole than most other new clothes I can afford. Yet, his comment makes me feel bittersweet about some of my favourite garments, and I always feel guilty for seeking quality at cheap prices, at Urban Outfitters to top that; it is a vicious circle. In my case, the solution would be to look elsewhere, and to consciously reduce my buying power... in other words, to boycott APC and to buy from smaller, more ethical brands. Still, I'm divided between aesthetics and ethics.
Amanda said…
I may be in the minority here but as insensitive as Touitou comments are (and from what I've read, he IS really a douche), I can see where it's coming from. The problem though, with his statement is that it's extremely hypocritical - his company obviously benefits from the cheap manufacturing processes in China that stem from years of oppression and poverty. Anyway, I buy only a very small amount of clothes from APC mostly because I find that the quality doesn't correspond with the price.
S said…
Such an interesting post. This whole creator vs creation things makes me think slightly of my own experiences with certain authors. For example, growing up, I absolutely loved Ender's Game, yet in my adult life, I've grown to abhor Orson Scott Card. My memories of the books I've read aren't completely tainted (rereads may produce different results), but I've found myself unable to "consume" anymore of his work. In the case of books, it seems obvious since so much of an author's soul (and political agenda) is embodied in their work. In the case of clothing, this can be sometimes more true than in others. I mean, even in a brand of basics like American Apparel, you cannot step into one of those stores or see an ad without seeing the founder everywhere. This makes it nearly impossible to separate the creator from the creation. Yet a brand like APC can seem a lot more "unbranded" in a way, and I don't necessarily think of Touitou himself when I look at his clothes. The separation seems much easier in this case. It will be interesting to see how you feel in a few months time, whether you'll be able to make that separation or not
never buying APC again. thanks for sharing. If I don't know then I can't care, but once I learn something like this I cannot support them anymore without feeling horrible when I'm wearing something by them.
Aïssa said…
I stop giving my money to creators behind brands that I like whose "vision" I don't share.
I've never bought anything by American Apparel though I like their products because the person behind it, I just find repelling. Lately, it was Guerlain with his comment on national TV in the lines that "N*gg**s never worked". I'm never buying anything Guerlain again.
Of course, I also feel a hypocrite sometimes when it comes to my consumption habits and I don't always have the reflex to research how ethical was the making process of what I'm buying. But if I know, I can't turn a blind eye.
I'm fairly not surprised by Touitou's narrow minded comment. Basing an opinion on an (aesthetics) perception and gloating about it as a general and obvious truth is the kind of talk you can easily hear in Paris cafés...
Anonymous said…
Hi, thanks for sharing this information. One thing I have always believed (especially coming from a country so closely linked to consumerism) is in the power of the purse. I was taught: "If designers/companies don't listen to anything else, they always listen to "green" (Dollars are green). The Montgomery bus boycott is a perfect example of what happens when people use their purchasing power for good. We can always do something. You just used your influence to "make a difference" by posting an information I may have never been exposed to on my own, on your blog. I will not be buying this product. I will also spread the word to my corner of the world. We always have a choice and we can always make an impact, we just have to choose to make one. I don't believe that you need to go looking under every rock to find out dirt about every company, but I do believe that you are responsible for the information you have. You have to do what you think is best. If I were in your shoes (and I have in the past), I just continued to wear what I already owned-because just getting rid of everything would have been problematic for me (I would have had to buy a new wardrobe). Since I don't buy discernible logos on my products, I just wore the items to death and didn't purchase additional products from the company. Again, thanks for sharing.
-Missone
AquaGenie said…
Thanks for the post. I am now incensed by his comment that I would not even attempt to try APC. I am sure if you look hard enough, you can find alternatives from companies/creators with some common sense!
indigo16 said…
So we are what we wear, not what we think or believe or who or what we love? To dismiss an entire nation/culture by the clothes on their back is tragic.
His loss, but these things stick and they will come around one day and bite him. Thankfully his clothes are far out of my reach and now out of my mind too.
A great post to debate.
lin said…
anon: I did not know that about Cheap Monday. In any case, I'm not going to burn all my APC clothes or something, since the practical side of me thinks throwing out good clothing is wasteful. But the brand has definitely lost some of its appeal for me.

camille: I buy APC mostly when it's on sale too, because it's better for my pocket that way. I don't mind paying full price for some of their stuff (I like their shirts) though. I agree on the question between aesthetics and ethics - I think when it comes to buying things that are obviously an indulgence, like an APC shirt, I can give it up more easily.

Amanda: If it's a question of where Chinese in China have style, that's debatable and I may even agree, but I can't get over how he appears not to care about the context behind it, which is not acceptable for me. I wouldn't say anything like that about any country with a similar socio-political background.

And the sheer hypocrisy when he, as you point you, profits from the oppression.

My favourite things from APC have always been the shirts - compared to shirts in the same price bracket I find them well-made and I love the fabrics. Everything else, is okay in looks but average in quality.

S: I actually wrote this post a few days ago and sat on it to see if I would cool off, but I couldn't get over the hypocrisy of it. Plus it feels like I'm handing money to someone who doesn't care for my business anyway. He was interviewed for the APC store opening in Singapore and he was so dismissive that I was quite put off.

Maybe as you said, I will feel differently in few months. I agree it's much harder to make that separation in books.

Alice: I wish I had a resolve as clear as yours. I'm quite unwilling to wear his clothes now, but I can't promise I won't be tempted.

Aissa: I'm not perfect in my consumption habits either, but I agree, once I know, I can't keep buying.

I think in private conversation we all exhibit our prejudices, which is still objectionable but to say it publicly and preach it as truth is unacceptable.

missone: Thanks for sharing your experience. I have had similar feelings about certain brands - sometime in the middle of this year I decided no more Gap, no more Nike - but I was less "sentimentally" attached to them. At the same time, I'm aware in this case, it's not like APC has been proven to be implicated in actual cases of exploitation, so if I cut APC from my life, what am I to do with the other labels that I'm equally in the dark about when it comes to manufacturing? It depends on how long I hold his opinions and attitudes against him I suppose.

Aquagenie: perhaps I will!
lin said…
indigo16: Just missed your comment! As some of the others point out, it's not like APC clothes are so obviously branded that I will be walking around promoting his clothes. But I guess at a personal level, I am unable to look at the label and feel at ease after what I read. I've long felt that way about some high street brands and stopped shopping there after a while too.
Joy said…
This is my relationship to American Apparel described to a T. Thankfully APC is still quite outside my student budget to buy their items regularly but I'm saddened to hear such thoughtless ignorant statements coming from the head of such an awesome label.
miss sophie said…
obviously Jean Touitou has not done his homework on the native talents in Shanghai, Beijing, and elsewhere. it's a shame that eurocentric arrogance is stunting his vision of fashion and style and creativity. i mean, the legacy and 'culture' disseminated by many of the fashion houses in Paris have so much connection to the Vichy collaborationist regime, i wonder why his notions of history and social context are so selectively prejudiced?
lapindelune said…
Sadly, I feel similarly with regards to almost every brand in existence, except for perhaps 'Toast', who's items are often sadly too large a fit for me...they don't even create shoes in my size, which leaves me somewhat flummoxed.
(fabulous word!)

As for JT, I have, up until now, usually been rather impressed with his interviews/attitude. We possess a similar cynicism.....although my own is perhaps a few shades lighter.

Depressing indeed (the China comment). The mind boggles.
Kate said…
What a shame. Aesthetics count for so little when they're all that's worth knowing about.
Anonymous said…
sad to read this, but i've been pretty unimpressed with the quality, fabrics and cuts of apc clothing over the past 4 years or so. it just feels like it's coasting on hype to me.
jennifer said…
Thanks for posting about this. I've read a few interviews with Touitou and have followed his blog for long enough to get the impression that the guy is a total douche. His comments about China and Chinese culture are obviously inaccurate and bigoted. What makes it all the more infuriating is that A.P.C. is opening a store in Beijing. As much as he hates on the culture, he still wants a piece of the pie.
Anonymous said…
I think you touched a huge subject of ethics and fashion. I am not sure whether Touitou is as guilty as he may appear. What about the chains like Zara, Gap, other designers (I got second hand dress from Diana von Furstenberg, made...my horror, in China) I recommend to read 'To Die For. Is Fashion wearing out the world?" by Lucy Siegle, to get an idea of entire world of cheap labour, cost to planet etc. And in terms of China and its culture, I always felt sympathetic to oppressed Chinese people, until I travelled to Burma and Laos and saw how Chinese people oppress other nations culturally and economically,. Therefore, we should see a context, by which I mean entire context, not just Mao Zedong's part. There is something very true and important in Touitou said, which all you here failed to notice:"those people are taking over the resources of the planet and we cannot do or say anything because they have all the cash
Anonymous said…
^^^ And what is so inherently bad about 'those people' taking over all the resources? besides the fact that China has questionable/shocking labour practices, and probably terrible environmental standards as well, but I hardly think you could hold that against them since it is often perpetuated by big companies based in the west out sourcing their production and using it to their advantage.. Aren't China taking full advantage of capitalism anyway?
Obviously neither China nor Europe/'the west' are innocent, but thats not the point. The point is the sheer hypocrisy of Touitou's comments, and that he claims he is buying Scottish knitwear as a political statement. If he wanted to make a statement he would bring his production back to France. Furthermore, his sheer ignorance is just shocking, and that he is dismissing an entire culture purely based his personal encounters with the way they dress.
lin said…
Joy: In the case of American Apparel, I started out admiring his stance of trying to manufacture in the US, but I guess all that was cancelled out by the owner's personality, their branding, the unimpressive quality.

miss sophie: There are no innocent parties anymore. This is hardly new, but it's just depressing to be constantly reminded of it even as one tries to change their lifestyle to correct this.

lapindelune: I'm not forgetting how there are many brands (some of them siting in my closet) that are guilty of other things (poor quality, use of cheap labour, poor environmental practices, knocking off original design, the list goes on), so I don't want to make him to be the ultimate villain or anything. I think this one hits so personally because I actually liked the brand and so feel let down now.

Kate: I do wonder if his quotes were taken out of context. But since there is no sign he's disputing them, oh well.

Anon (1.57): It's always been all about the shirts for me, and I have always been happy with those. Still, it's sad that "coasting on hype" can be said of so many brands.

jennifer: I read a few of his other interviews, I don't actually disagree with some of his comments, but he annoys me. I think for some he reads as refreshingly honest but personally, I've always saved my admiration for people with a greater sense of humility.

anon (4.14 + 10.49): It's a subject this post doesn't adequately address, I'm afraid, haha. I think I mentioned in a comment earlier that I'm aware that APC hasn't been proven to be guilty of unethical manufacturing and I wear clothes from other brands with equally dubious reputations, so I'm not on any moral high ground.

The point for me, as you said it, is the hypocrisy of Touitou raging about China, but still manufacturing there and even opening stores there. I may not support China's policies and business practices, but I cannot accept someone who condemns it and then profits from it.

In any case, I wholeheartedly agree with you about China and the big companies and even governments (both Asian and Western) being guilty parties all around. I remember how I felt about my iPhone the day I read about Foxconn (big Taiwanese company that makes parts for Apple) and the suicides on their factory in China. Foxconn is a huge Taiwanese success story that employs hundreds and thousands of people in China and Taiwan, keeps the Taiwanese economy afloat, does a great deal of philanthropic work, and yet had allegedly pushed their factory workers to the brink with inhumane working hours. Is there anything the average person uses that's innocent anymore?
Anonymous said…
I agree completely about consumers not being able to buy anything that isn't somehow related to exploitation. I study International Relations, so I am really interested in this issue, and its just awful having seeing how much ignorance and close-mindedness that exists. Anyway, I forgot to say thanks for having a blog that actually addresses important issues and provokes reactions.
-Anon 10:49 AM
justeileen said…
Lin, this is dampening. I really hope that his mind has opened up since that comment about China.

Like many who commented, I tend to be idealistic, and how wonderful it is when we love the maker as much as the clothing itself.

Unfortunately, the marriage of ethics and aesthetics is no longer happening and it is a permanent slide. The erosion of ethics has led to a compromise in everything.

There are many reasons why we love a brand. I love A.P.C for the simplicity and comfort of their clothing. The quality of the items I've bought so far has been exceptional. Their cotton dresses are a dream for our weather and they always look appropriate. As long as A.P.C continue making such dresses, I will shop there. While I do not agree with everything Touitou believes in, it will not make me to want to go home and get rid of all the A.P.C stuff that I am getting so much use from. Just like I am still in love my reissue although I do not like what I read about Karl Lagerfeld's interviews/comments, which by the way can get far more bigoted.

I live by this:
In essentials, unity
In non-essentials, liberty
In all things, charity

Like the first anonymous commentor, religion and faith is my "essential" and I am thankful I dont own any Cheap Monday jeans.

ps. I love the colours on that shirt. And are you kidding about the mother-of-pearl buttons?? :)
lapindelune said…
justeileen - I wish that i could quote specific segments of your comment above. So beautifully, perfectly put. x
Wendy said…
Once a brand gets famous, it is inevitable that greed takes over and heads to cheaper countries for higher production. If only there is an exposé on how much designer labels make, we would abandon every label that is not locally produced! A close of mine works for a fashion manufacturing company in China and they produce for a lot of the European cult labels. APC is one of them and I nearly vomited when I found out how cheap their production cost is compared to their retail price. Let's just say, even with 90% discount off their retail price, they will still be making millions of euros after deducting all the costs of running the company. It really goes to show that in the end, most designer labels just want to make a ridiculous profit.

I have abandoned so many labels that I love because of their ethical practices and APC is one of them. Sure their ethical practices as not as notoriously bad as H&M and Zara but only because there hasn't been an in-depth research done known to the public. They are one of hundreds of hip labels that go under the radar. Their marketing strategies truly knows how to glaze the eyes of their consumers. I've decided to not even choose between lesser of all evils, but to choose only good ethical practicing designers and locally produced labels. It does take a lot of effort and patience and if I had not been awakened by what I found out, I would still be buying in ignorance.

What a great post you wrote and such an interesting discussion you've created!
lin said…
To everyone: Forgot to thank you all for the comments - they challenged me to think more deeply about what I said and consider aspects of the topic I had neglected.

Anon (10.49): Thanks! I did one module on IR and it was very sobering, and one of those classes you don't forget. In any case, I think consuming less is my best option.

justeileen: Thanks for sharing such beautiful words, I agree with lapindelune.

I'm not going to throw out my APC clothes - aside from the fact that I love them and have formed my own memories and attachments to them that have little to do with the brand. It's also wasteful to throw out good clothing. But buying from them again - well, it's always going to be an uneasy experience, like how I feel when I buy something from Zara or Topshop - it's never going to feel 100% right.

And it's true about the buttons! I tested out that theory when I was shopping (discreetly) and with my own shirts, haha. It's a good test of quality if you're vintage shopping.

wendy: I know, I used to work as a sales assistant in college and I know exactly how much the clothes cost retailers because we used to have to write off losses of clothes that were stolen.

The point about hip brands escaping the radar is a good point - I suppose partly because their footprint is still a smaller one compared to mammoths like H&M. I think the lack of disclosure is the biggest obstacle to consuming responsibly.
Milly said…
Thank you for sharing this article. It's definitely given me something to think about. The lack of disclosure amongst so many luxury brands is a concern and people like you sharing articles like this lead to a more educated consumer who can make informed choices. This can only be a good thing.

http://millyfellintothewardrobe.blogspot.com/
soniadeli said…
Very interesting post and debate. I think we all agree it was a very sad and ignorant comment from Jean Touitou. I agree with almost everything justeileen has said (especially the 3 "principles" to live by!). I cannot promise I'll completely stop buying APC, but I'll definitely give a second thought. I am not comfortable with the idea of bringing so much profit (and I'm sure a substantial profit must be made given the price of the clothes!) to someone so ignorant and disrespectful. Many thanks for sharing this, Lin. Information makes the world go round.
Anonymous said…
Hi,

I've just found your blog via my hunt for that Vogue "less is more" article (I commented there too).

I agree with Aïssa, I can't shop somewhere once I know this type of thing about them. e.g. Urban Outfitters/Anthropologie, American Apparel, etc. I do, I'm certain, purchase clothes that are from places that are equally close-minded or have bad practices, and I'm working on that.

In my heart I know I should adequately research all of my clothing sources and completely stop buying from places I don't believe in, because 1) dollars speak, and 2) why is my need for a certain item more important than my morals?

I try to shop second-hand, or else from brands I know a fair bit about, like Nau, Icebreaker, and Patagonia, but their clothes are mostly outdoor gear and I have enough of that.

I do think that it is worthwhile to not shop at places whose practices or beliefs we disagree with. At the minimum, I simply don't want my money enriching those who would say things like Jean Toitou.

-Olivia
Fleurette said…
I remember reading his comments on China a while ago when I did a research for my interview with Jean Touitou. I was rather put off by them but didn't really reflect more upon his bigoted statements, so thanks for bringing the matter into light. I'm very glad that I called off the interview with Jean Touitou in New York. My boss/the editor was even a bit worried because he'd only heard that Touitou is a very "angry" and offensive person who'd be too intense for me.

I went to APC in London yesterday and bought a knit, not sure if I would if I'd read this debate before. As much as I love the design and not the person behind it, I think it's healthy to press the pause button until I've sorted out whether or not I want to continue supporting the brand – and this goes for a range of other brands as well, be it the creator's beliefs or ethical reasons.

But when it comes to French designers and interviews, more often than not I take them with a grain of salt as I always wonder if there are any language barriers in the picture.
Unknown said…
Milly: Hi, no problem. I agree, information is crucial to making informed choices and there's too little of it out there. I actually admire Inditex (they own Zara) and the way they have a very detailed company policy statement on their website on manufacturing. I don't know if they enforce their policies strictly and they should do more by sharing an audit of their factories, but given how so many companies don't even share their policies at all, it's a start.

soniadeli: I think separating the person from the brand is hard, but good design is good design so I'm sure I will be tempted to buy his clothes again. But certainly I will think twice.

Olivia: Thanks for your sharing your take. I agree, it's distasteful to hand your money to someone who will take it and then insult you.

Some brands I know I will unlikely shop at again at Gap and Nike, and Aididas because they've been reported to be involved more than once in subcontracted factories with appalling working conditions. It strikes me harder to think that this happens in SE Asia where I live, just a couple of hours away by flight.

Fleurette: He definitely sounds like a combative interviewee, haha. I'm sure when your paths cross again you'll be well prepared to handle it.

I would have loved to ask to elaborate and substantiate on his views. Like you said, it could be a language thing, but until he says otherwise, I have to take what he says as it is.

I think APC designs are beautiful - I'm sure many people think its overrated but the style and mood of the clothes speak to me. At the store in APC, the sales assistants were quite friendly and chatty as well, so it's not like I only have negative associations with the brand. So I can totally see myself falling for something of theirs. Still, the creator being who he is, I think the desire to by his clothes will definitely be less intense than before.
lin said…
^^^ I don't know why my profile came out as "Unknown" up there, but for the record, it's me, lin. Bah.
Ammu said…
The guy seems like an idiot. I don't buy APC clothing anymore because I am just not satisfied with the quality. Also, while I love Italian-made footwear, French-made perfume, Indian-made textiles, I am a little tired of the China-bashing on so many fashion blogs. Not everything made in China is poor quality - seriously. My grandmother had Chinese brocade sari blouses made in Beijing in the 1950s when my grandfather was deputy ambassador there. I still wear them today and get so many compliments. If an item holds up for 50+ years, surely the country of origin knows how to make things well?! I think Touitou's comments reflect a widespread sentiment in many parts of Europe at the moment - I get the economic fear going through people's minds, but I think people need to educate themselves on China's history, economy, and aesthetic traditions, before jumping to conclusions.
L.L. said…
I wish I had this entry earlier! I feel like I'm late coming into the discussion.

I believe Touitou is originally from Tunisia which is why he manufactures there.

I think he does come off as quite a prick in this interview but despite this I am still a follower of a.p.c. He has a commitment to his vision of quality and quiet elegance in clothing and his collaborations that I appreciate. When I first read the interview I remember feeling disgusted but it requires further reflection to understand where he is coming from.

I admire his courage to speak out against celebrity culture and China unlike most brands. It is shooting the hand that feeds but it is a valid criticism from someone who is part of the fashion wheel.

As for China, I think he speaks of the tai-tais, the nouveau riche who hoard ridiculous amounts of Hermes, Chanel and other logolized bags and accessories simply because it is covetable and expensive. As you know, the price has little to do with style.

I think when he speaks about wearing Scottish knitwear it is to speak about the losing war to Chinese manufacturing. Scotland has been producing knits for decades and countless people depend on the industry for their income. i don't think he is saying China produces shoddy products but that people should not all move to China simply because labour there is the cheapest and most efficient.
L.L. said…
Adding on, he is quite arrogant in his opinions but it is refreshing for designers to be speaking out about their thoughts on globalization. They are heads of a multi-billion dollar industry that for the most part, consumers pay little attention to the exploitation behind their $30 shirts. I admire VIvienne Westwood for similar out-spoken commentary. She also runs a very profitable brand that probably produces in some inhumane conditions but she tries to bring attention to it. From this article, she isn't a fan of China either. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/10
/24/vivienne-westwood-china_n_1028183.html

I do wish both Touitou and Westwood would spend a little more time learning about China. It is a large country and a lot more diverse than just the factories, the sweatshops and pollution that is reported.
lin said…
Ammu: I'm always careful to avoid concluding too quickly that a view is "Euro-centric" or "American-centric" when it speaks negatively of Asia, so I was hesitant to look at his comments in such a light. But I agree there is a lot of China-bashing out there from people who don't speak from an informed mindset, and that bothers me.

L.L: Hey, you're not too late. I;m still digesting all the comments myself.

I know he is from Tunisia, and I'm not judging that he manufactures in these places, or that there is something wrong with that. Neither I am defending China, be it style or business/manufacturing practices.

What I find offensive is mainly that he is putting down a country he manufactures in in a very hypocritical way. The point about the Scottish knitwear may have been well-meant but badly put, but when he doesn't make his knits in Scotland anyway, it doesn't reflect well on his brand - he seems to say one thing but does another.
Anonymous said…
It looks like Touitou (and A.P.C.) lost a dozen customers from the persons commenting here - some of them not being able to afford the A.P.C. clothes anyways. Perhaps he has also lost some customers in China - but if we believe his interview, they don't dress well in general anyways. But I'm sure he gained quite a number of similar-minded customers in Europe and North America - and they do have means to buy A.P.C.

As for the Chinese culture - I spoke to many Chinese and it looks like I know much more about their culture and history than themselves.
lin said…
anon (11.09): I'm especially confused about the last part of your comment. I do see where you are coming from but it seems rather patronising and it's just too generalising .
Chuck said…
Eugh, how depressing.
Anonymous said…
Interesting. Wouldn't stop me from buying A.P.C though.

While I find Jean's comment slightly insensitive, I would have to agree for the most part purely from my interactions with Chinese people (mostly students from nouveau riche families). A fair bit of them really have no idea how to dress, often opting for loud and expensive (sometimes fake versions) brands in an attempt to exude class and gain respect, when really they just look like an billboard. Props to Chinese people who know what/why they're buying, rather than using surrogate indicators like the price tag.
Almomajol said…
I know this is an old post, but I had to write in a say not only are his comments about China completely offensive (don't even get me started), but his comment about chanel bags being everywhere make him sound like an insufferable snob. Who cares if everyone has a chanel bag? Am I supposed to feel sorry for him because chanel bags, being ubiquitous as he claims, are losing their power as a symbol of class privilege? Whatever, get with the program, dude!
Lee Shin said…
spot on with this write-up, i like the way you discuss the things. i'm impressed, i must say. i'll probably be back again to read more. thanks for sharing this with us.

Lee Shin
www.trendone.net
Ala ud din Jutt said…
Best share. I like it.
Anonymous said…
Good write up.

Very ignorant comments on his part regarding China. I have to say, i have heard similar opinions and tone of voice from European friends and am always surprised by their intolerance.

I live in New Zealand, have visited Europe, the US and China extensively.

He fails to understand China's history and makes sweeping generalisations which are pretty disgusting.

Frankly it's enough to put me off buying anything more with the A.P.C tag.
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Archana said…
Lin,

I think about this a lot.

So if i have say 100$ in the bank, and draw say 2$ as interest on it per year, some banker out there is investing this money and making it for me. And we know nothing about the ideals of the banker or his ethics. We have a plumber come and install a pipe in our house. We know nothing of his ethics. Clothing makers somehow, we care a lot. I am NOT saying we shouldnt care. On contrary, we should. About everything. If we cared about our bankers, we would have avoided the housing crisis.

All this is so damn hard !!
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