A Conversation with Jean Touitou on Sneakers, and the A.P.C. x ASICS GEL-Sonoma 15-50
Tunisian-born designer Jean Touitou founded A.P.C. (Atelier de Production et de Création) in 1987. This year marks the classic French label’s 35th anniversary, and for the first time, they’ve collaborated with ASICS to create three GEL-SONOMA 15-50s – a trail runner sourced from the 2002 catalogue. From his home in Paris, Monsieur Touitou talks about his design inspiration and how ‘creativity is like making a runway for a plane.’
What was your original impression of ASICS?
I’m not sneaker-obsessed, and I don’t even wear sneakers daily, but I knew ASICS had a reputation for making the most reliable running shoes. I’m not a runner either, but I talk to my feet and ask them how they feel about ASICS. Honestly, I never felt this comfortable in sports shoes before! I had one pair of ASICS GEL-SONOMA 15-50, and I thought they looked really good with denim that had naturally faded over 20 years. I went to an event and everybody was interested in my shoes and pants but not interested in me at all!,
The tie-dye strapping is a unique touch.
My wife received tie-dye socks as a gift, and she wore them to the studio when we were working on the shoes. So we decided to add some details to the shoe because, after all, it looks so technical! Each shoe will therefore be unique, which brings some randomness and beautiful aesthetics.
Sometimes when we are creating, we don’t work with rationality. When working on a shoe, we have to let our minds go free. The idea is to create beauty and have fun at the same time.
I cannot be rational about that decision. But the idea was on the table, and we wanted to try it. I think they came out nice and original. Creativity is like making a runway for a plane. I consider myself an airport builder, and the planes are good ideas that we help to land.
Of the three, is there a pair that you think works best with raw denim?
For raw denim, I will probably go with the darker colourway. For faded denim, I will wear the light blue one, but that’s a bit too obvious of an answer. I try to be more creative with what’s on the upper part of my body when it comes to matching shoes. It also depends on the sweater you have on. For example, today, I’m wearing a mustard Shetland wool sweater. So, obviously, I will choose a colourway that is kind of yellowish. All I know is I don’t want anything to hurt my eyes or anyone else’s eyes. I’m curious to see how people are going to style these shoes.
What do you think about modern sneaker culture?
My answer comes from the psychiatrist in me. Anything that can take people away from being sad or neurotic is good. It could be collecting guitars, which I used to do. Or like a wine freak who stores all their wine at the right temperature. But I don’t find the beauty of a sneaker as interesting as the beauty of guitars.
My niece was getting married, and I made a dress for her. I was talking to her about what her husband will wear. I said, ‘So, for the sneakers, what will he wear?’ She said, ‘Oh, the sneakers, you can’t even discuss the matter with him. I’m not qualified to suggest anything.’ A sneakerhead is a sneakerhead, period. It’s like, don’t try to explain to a fisherman how to catch a fish if you’re not a fisherman. I like the irrationality of it.
Life is not easy every day. Whatever makes you happy, go for it. Even if it’s the weirdest shit, go for it if you don’t hurt anybody. For me, collecting sneakers, I love the absurdity of it. It’s like collecting art. To me, sneakers are a form of art. But no, no, no, I won’t ever collect them!
The A.P.C. x ASICS GEL-SONOMA 15-50 is available now from all quality ASICS stockists.
To see our interview with Jean Touitou in print, be sure to grab your copy of Issue 48 now via the Sneaker Freaker shop!