LOST IN TRANSLATION: Jean Touitou’s A.P.C. has a strong following Stateside, but his use of the N-word to describe certain looks from his fall 2015 men’s wear collection suggests he underestimated the impact of his chosen terminology, which caused footwear brand Timberland to cancel an intended tie-up with the French brand.
“When describing our brand’s latest collaboration, I spoke recklessly using terms that were both ignorant and offensive,” Touitou said in a written statement. “I apologize and am deeply regretful for my poor choice of words, which are in no way a reflection of my personal views.”
Touitou, who is creative director of the brand, labeled a group of looks, like a camel wool coat worn bare chested and paired with Timberland boots, “Last N##@$ in Paris,” holding up a placard to knock home the title.
Touitou described his collection to WWD as a mash-up of “the ghetto and ‘Last Tango in Paris.’ It’s about how to decolonize clothing from its meaning.”
Touitou’s references during his presentations — he always gives an irreverent speech presenting each group of looks — are usually entertaining, often oblique and sometimes controversial.
And while there had been whisperings of discontent online in the few days since the presentation on Saturday, the impact was knocked home as Timberland announced late Wednesday that it would be immediately terminating its collaboration with the brand, planned for fall and previewed on the models at Saturday’s presentation.
“We have chosen to immediately terminate our involvement with the A.P.C. brand, including the footwear collaboration we had planned for this fall,” Timberland president Stewart Whitney said in a statement. “This kind of language and approach is in complete contrast with our values. Timberland seeks to collaborate with designers and brands who are at the forefront of lifestyle trends; equally important, they must also share our values.
“We will not tolerate offensive language or racial slurs of any kind being associated with the Timberland brand,” he added.
A.P.C. has also done collaborations with rapper Kanye West, fashion designer Vanessa Seward, Nike and casual brand Carhartt.