PARIS — For the last two seasons, the A.P.C. fashion show has been a study in the unstudied, held in the brand’s headquarters with models casually walking the lobby floor around standing-room-only guests.
This season had the same laid-back vibe, despite the announcement Wednesday confirming the news originally reported by WWD that founder and designer Jean Touitou sold a majority stake to consumer investment giant L Catteron.
Speaking to journalists after the show, he said that creatively “nothing is going to change,” and “if worse come to worst” he still owns the building on Rue Madame in Paris’ tony 6th arrondissement, as well as the attached recording studio.
Touitou said he feels as if a weight has been lifted off of his shoulders after barely surviving the business difficulties wrought by the pandemic and likening it to a fight for his life.
“Because that pandemic ‘war,’ people don’t realize…we about died during the pandemic because we had merchandise ready to be shipped to around 400 shops. That’s a lot of yardage, in rolls of fabric that you don’t know what to do with.”
When things finally were able to reopen, he wasn’t able to predict what different regulations would be in various regions, as the company is in markets as diverse as Denmark and South Korea. As the chief executive officer, he didn’t feel like he was able to keep up with the rolling regulations on openings or rules governing employment.
“I really felt, ‘OK, I’m gonna get out of this game,’” he said, though it took him time to come to the decision.
He decided to align with L Catterton so the deep pockets could do the heavy lifting.
“I like the metaphor of somebody who knows how to handle the street fights, but I prefer to have bodyguards now.”
Powerful bodyguard they are, as L Catterton is backed by luxury conglomerate LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton. L Catterton has invested heavily in its fashion portfolio in recent years, including Birkenstock, Etro, Ganni and John Hardy.
Speaking to WWD following the sale news, L Catterton Europe partner Eduardo Velasco said the A.P.C. has revenue of more than 100 million euros and he believes it is poised for growth up to 500 million euros.
Touitou wouldn’t comment on specific financial targets, but said that after 36 years he felt like the time was right for the business to grow and that he didn’t feel he was the person to lead it to the next level. He will remain in charge of “strong decisions,” but the day-to-day financials and growth strategy will change. It is likely they will open more stores.
The brand has 70 company-owned stores across Europe, the U.S., Australia, South Korea, Japan and Hong Kong.
When questioned if there will be expansion in new regions or markets, Touitou added that he has long been asked to open the brand in new markets but felt comfortable with the current structure.
“It’s a tough world, to own a company. I mean I was glad to, at the same time, be a poet and warrior, but it is tiring,” he said, adding that now he will focus on the creative side.
To that end, he sent out a collection of smart basics in stiff denim, striped shirts and trenchcoats. He looked to the codes of preppy, punk and goths to add his signature twists.
All of the models were students from his daughter’s high school class, and Touitou added that anyone who wanted to do it was accepted. “I love this idea of no casting,” he said. Students came and graffitied the walls surrounding the runway, adding to the ad hoc vibe, and skipped last looks in favor of an impromptu dance party.