By  on June 19, 2007

LOS ANGELES — The casual-chic French contemporary brand A.P.C. launched its second U.S. store here on Saturday, 15 years after opening in lower Manhattan.

"I'm not keen about opening a store every five minutes," said company founder and president Jean Touitou.

His restraint has less to do with maintaining A.P.C.'s hip aura in the U.S. than with a personal philosophy.

"I don't sit there and say, 'Let's not do anything so we can build up my cult,'" he said, chuckling. "I believe there are way too many clothing stores all over the place.…I'm not a real estate developer, and most of the fashion brands are. But after 15 years, I thought a second [U.S.] store is a good thing to do."

The company operates 15 units in Japan, four in Paris and one each in Stockholm, Berlin and Munich.

The Los Angeles market has already proved to be strong for A.P.C. "We have a mail-order catalogue, and a lot of business is coming from [Los Angeles]," Touitou said. "We're taking no chance of failure there."

The 1,000-square-foot store at 619 North Croft Avenue, just south of Melrose Avenue, was designed by architect Laurent Deroo and is across the street from the new Theory store. Its other neighbors are small, well-kept houses.

The boxy, white space was once a furniture store and is less than a block from designer-heavy Melrose Place, where Touitou said he initially looked before being put off by the high rents.

"I don't want to [get] caught up [paying] these huge figures for rent," he said, adding that he likes the residential feel of the new store. "It's like it's a little house."

A large skylight cut into the center of the store illuminates folded merchandise displayed on a multilevel floor unit, which is surrounded by birch and concrete floors. Merchandise is also displayed on stainless steel racks. Daytime dresses range from around $175 to $300; skirts and shorts hover in the $200 range. Summer sandals are priced from $175 to $500.Though the store was unfinished, A.P.C. staged a grand opening party on June 13, serving hamburgers, French fries and fruit pies in the small parking lot next to the boutique. Guests included designers Jeremy Scott and Liz Goldwyn and actress Miranda July.

A.P.C. will launch its third U.S. retail unit — an outlet, or "surplus" store, that also sells new denim — in Brooklyn's Williamsburg neighborhood in September. Touitou said the selling space will likely be just 500 square feet, but the building also will house office space for the brand. The company has two surplus stores in Japan and one in Paris.

"I'm not ashamed of my unsold business," Touitou said. "And I prefer to remain in control of previous seasons because I think the clothes are still beautiful."

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