We’re really psyched that we got the chance to Q&A Brice Partouche, designer of French denim brand April77, 1/2 the mastermind behind the April77 x Calla Romantic Rights collaboration (which turned out some seriously dreamy jeans). Brice revealed some admirable denim snobbery and, very interestingly, an interest in creating jeans out of Lady Gaga‘s hair.
Denim Therapy: Lets start from the beginning. How did you know you wanted to be a designer?
Brice Partouche: I never wanted to be a designer. I studied medecine. I wanted to be a cardiac surgeon! But I was into music too, playing in bands. Fashion wasn’t (and still not) important to me. It’s all about attitude.
My dad was a jeans maker and I learnt everything from him, even if he tried to keep me out from this business. I guess he wanted me to have a real job… and now we are working together. April77 is a family company. I started the brand in 2001. The idea was simple : clothes that me and my friends want to wear.
DT: Are there other denim brands you consider your immediate competition? How do you differentiate yourself from the hundreds of popular denim brands afloat right now?
BP: We don’t have competitors and if we have well I don’t know them. I guess we are different from others brand because we have a real story to tell. We’re authentic and passionated and that’s what make our customers special. They are more “fans” than customers.
People who knows me will tell you, I’m a real nerd. I feel only concerned by authentic denim brands and I try to avoid that profusion of storyless denim brands flooding the market.
DT: Do you have any pre-designing rituals?
BP: You mean like doing pagan rituals, turning upside down black jeans and waiting for the inspiration? Well not really, but I try to leave Paris for 2 weeks, going to NY or California. The USA have always been my most inspiring country.
DT: Describe the person who represents your ideal target customer—the customer you have in mind when you’re planning a collection.
BP: I figure a one-step-ahead teenager or a 35-year-old guy still stuck in his skaboarding years. At least, both are music nerds , clever customers and not under the fashion industry influence.
DT: What would be your dream collaboration? Any plans of that in the future?
BP: Jeans made with Lady Gaga’s hair would be awesome. But a collaboration with Henri Rollins would be the absolute dream!
DT: What are the most popular washes/fits in the line? What are your favorites, and how would you style them?
BP: The JOEY Overdrive Raw is our best seller. It’s our basic skinny jeans in natural indigo raw denim. It’s unisex. DICTATOR are a slim/straight jeans, very popular too. Raw jeans with a blank or band tee are the best… I’m not a fan of washings. I ‘ve always prefered raw blue or black denim. It’s a real pleasure to see that our customers prefer raw denim as well.
Of course we make couple of washings. They are always inspired by my personal or my friends jeans after 6 months or one year without washing or cleaning. I know it sounds dirty but that’s how jeans are supposed to be worn.
DT: Do you have any favorite/least favorite denim trends right now?
BP: I like open end denim. They were famous in the 70’s and 80’s , when denim fabric production became massive, suppliers had to make cheaper denim. The quality was good because the fabric was thicker…but the price was cheaper.
DT: Street style and style blogs are huge in the industry right now as a source of inspiration, influencing the high end labels rather than vice versa. How much does street style influence your designing?
BP: Well, street style is of course one of my main inspiration. I’m lucky because my job makes me travelling a lot. I meet very inspiring people, some are my friends, some are just random cool guys and girls.
DT: How many pairs of denim do YOU own?
BP: Guess what, I have two pairs : one blue, one black. I wear them till they die, then I change.
DT: Favorite celeb wearing your brand?
The Kills, Amy Winehouse (when she was around), Julian Casablancas.
Keep an eye on April77 for denim-snob approved releases this spring! Huge thanks to Brice Partouche for doing this Q&A with us.
—Jackie Racer & Michelle Christina Larsen
Tags: April77, Brice Partouche, Exclusive, French denim brand, interview, Lady Gaga, q&a