BERLIN — As a company, A.P.C. likes to keep things small. But not too small, at least in Berlin, where the French contemporary label just opened a second store.
Located on Fasanenstrasse in the old west side of town, the 1,100-square-foot shop for men and women has again been designed by A.P.C.’s architect of choice, Laurent Deroo. Owner and founder Jean Touitou, however, finally got his way, and the new door incorporates the use of travertine, besides the usual signature expanses of wood. “My staff always said travertine is too reminiscent of fascist Italian architecture, but for me it’s very Mies van der Rohe. And so we’re using it,” Touitou commented.
In 2006, A.P.C. helped pioneer the now-trendy designer shop-dotted Mulackstrasse in the Hackescher Markt/Mitte area of former East Berlin. “I love to start where there’s nothing, and we were successful enough there to feel we could use another store [in Berlin]. It’s a huge city and dynamic. I feel like Berlin could be the next Los Angeles,” he declared.
As for Fasanenstrasse, which once boasted Chanel, Gucci and Cartier boutiques, the tree-lined side street off the Kurfürstendamm fell into a sleeping beauty slumber after German reunification. A.P.C. is one of the first to be kissing it awake again, with Acne also rumored to be interested in taking up west side residence there.
“I was attracted by the name [which translates into Pheasants Street], the fact that Literaturhaus [a villa from 1890] is next door, the old Chanel store was across the street, and that there are all these good-looking boarding houses around,” said Touitou. “In fact, we had a leak in the store because a pension guest fell asleep in the bathtub, like a junkie in the Chelsea Hotel. I thought, here we go again.”
As for A.P.C.’s double Berlin presence, it doesn’t point to a major push into the German market, where the brand currently has 15 wholesale customers and the two company-operated stores in Berlin. “For Germany, A.P.C. is sort of a Berlin thing. We’re not a brand that can be successful everywhere. We need cities of 100,000-plus,” Touitou suggested.
“We’re an unimportant brand in Germany,” he went on. Given A.P.C.’s strategy of controlled growth, it’s a smaller player in general. “Our [total] turnover is only in the two digits [of millions]. All the moguls have three digits and will soon be in the trillions, but it’s not the point for us to be a huge brand,” Touitou stressed. Retail sales were placed at around $80 million. “We go at our own pace,” he continued, “opening three to four stores a year.”
Touitou is close to signing on Melrose Place in Los Angeles and just moved into larger quarters on Redchurch Street in London, and March will see the opening of A.P.C. on Bond Street. “In Manhattan, not London,” he quickly interjected. “We couldn’t afford Bond Street London.” For a moment, it looked like the label couldn’t afford to stay on Dover Street either.
“The rent had been tripled. That’s British capitalism for you, but I happened to cook lunch for Adrian Joffe of Comme des Garçons, and we made an arrangement so I don’t have to leave Mayfair. Thanks to Adrian, we’ll remain on Dover Street at the Dover Street Market. And not just in London, but also in Tokyo and New York,” he told WWD.
A.P.C. will do some special projects for CdG’s Dover Street Markets, Touitou explained, and deliver a new range every three months. “I respect their work tremendously, and I’m happy to have reached a maturity where we can speak at a round table, man to man.” Not to mention jointly digging into Touitou’s self-made pesto.