The French menswear designer discusses the expansion of his brand, the launch of his debut pre-collection, collaborating with Gap and showing at Paris Fashion Week.
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Having started his career working brands such as Dior, Givenchy and Marc Jacobs, designer Alexandre Mattiussi launched his menswear brand Ami in Paris in 2011. His approach of creating accessable, wearable luxury has quickly grown. Ami now has more than 300 wholesale stockists globally, as well as own stores in France, London, Tokyo and Hong Kong, and shows on the official Paris Fashion Week menswear schedule. Retail prices range from £70 for a beanie to £1,205 for a leather zipped jacket.
Mattiussi discusses why he recently launched Ami’s first pre-collection, his experience collaborating with American high street giant Gap and the magic of fashion week.
Why did you decide to launch your own menswear brand?
I was in the midst of designing a €2,000 (£1,770) sweater at one of the big fashion houses where I was working, and I stopped and thought: ”I can never afford the sweater I just designed.” I loved the clothes, but I just couldn’t connect with them any more. And that was really a eureka moment. We started small, but with a clear idea of what we wanted to do: real clothes, for real people.
Tell us about the name and heart logo
”Ami” means friend in French, so it matches with this positive and friendly nature that’s at the heart of my approach. It’s constructed from my initials and the last letter of my name.
The heart logo is a new signature. It’s called ami de coeur – translated as ”AMI of hearts” – a play on the ace of hearts. I like the way that it stands for something young, playful and carefree.
You recently announced your first pre-collection. Why expand your business in this way?
The reasons were twofold: because of an increasing demand from clients and as a solution to seasonality. With the growth of Ami’s business, especially online, our clients were looking for variety and new products mid-season. The line will also complement the main collections in terms of seasonality: what’s a guy to buy in summer when faced only with the new autumn collection in stores?
You have three stores in France as well as two concessions, plus London, Tokyo and Hong Kong. Which is your favourite?
Our London store on Duke street in Mayfair. It’s on a corner with lots of natural light. It has that homey apartment vibe I wanted to capture – you feel it’s somewhere comfortable, relaxed.
If you could open a store anywhere, where would it be?
In my hometown in Normandy. It’s unlikely, but a dream.
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For autumn 17 you collaborated with Gap. Tell us about this.
It was part of a prize of winning the 2017 GQ Coolest Menswear Designers on the Planet award, so it was a big honour. Working with them was very fluid – they’ve got all the right teams and processes in place. And I liked the idea of working with a high street brand – they dress people from all walks of life. It fits with my design philosophy of seeing the clothes worn on the street: my objective is not to have them end up in a museum.
You also continue to collaborate with Eastpak, and have linked up brands such as Moncler and Smiley in the past. Why collaborate?
From a creative standpoint, it’s an interesting challenge as a designer to combine two brand universes in one product. And from a commercial standpoint, it allows us to have new launches and products mid-season. You also get to meet great people, have new experiences and open the brand up to new audiences.
Which has been your favourite?
Our collaboration with Moncler in 2015 has been my favourite so far. I loved both the final product and imagery.
Why do you choose to show at Paris Fashion Week?
After all the work that goes into a collection, it’s exciting to show it in the context of a fashion show. It deserves its time in the spotlight. I enjoy it in the sense that it pushes you as a designer to maintain a certain level of creativity and think carefully about what message you are conveying through the collection.
What has been your favourite show?
My favourite show was probably autumn 14 at the Palais de Tokyo. There was this moment where we had snow falling from the ceiling just as the last model took to the runway and leaned against a lamppost. It was something very romantic, magic. I remember the crowd cheering.
What has been a career highlight?
Winning the ANDAM award, a very esteemed fashion prize in France. Like with all life-changing moments, I remember exactly where I was and what I was doing when I got the news.
Ami spring 18 (2)Snapchat
Favourite clothing brands
Helmut Lang vintage, Calvin Klein by Raf Simons, Carhartt and Uniqlo.
Favourite places to shop
London and Miami, for the amazing vintage.
Last fashion purchase
A K-Way jacket to wear on my scooter as I zip around Paris.
Marrakech for my birthday with my mum. It’s my go-to place for some sunshine.
Last book you read
A book by journalist Loic Prigent: “J’adore la mode mais c’est tout ce que je déteste”: Pépiements. Translated as “I love fashion but it’s everything I hate”.
Last film you watched
Call Me by Your Name by Luca Guadagnino.
As a salesperson at the Conran shop on Paris’s Left Bank.
What do you do at the weekend?
I like hosting dinner parties at home with family and friends, or watching movies with my boyfriend at home. I go to a few parties here and there – the usual!