Words by Gino Delmas
April 77 is still alive. For those who buried the French brand when the rock era ended somewhen around 2007, we have to say they are wrong. Founded in 2002 by Brice Partouche, the brand exploded in 2004, and became a must have for every rocker pretending to be rolling with his time. From the Rakes to Kate Moss, including the Stones or Pete Doherty, rock planet had to deal with these pairs of jeans sporting a plectrum above the right pocket. When the rock era faded, the brand became a bit less visible and more discrete, but kept moving forward at his rhythm, widening the field of its inspirations. As he just opened a new shop in Paris rue de Charonne (his second), we discussed the past, present and future of April 77 with Brice Partouche.
Can you tell me more about the creation of April 77?
I was living in Grenoble (France), and I was loving punk hardcore rock. It is a universe with very sharp codes and the skinny jean was one of them. In 2000, I already took the habit to tighten the jeans of my friends on my dad’s sewing machine (his dad founded the brand Bonaventure), and very spontaneously, I thought about making the whole jeans. I had no marketing plan at all, but I think I was at the right place at the right moment.
How did you consider the rock wave at this time?
It was a bit funny because I barely never listened to The Strokes or the other bands that participated to it, and at the same time you have Hedi Slimane who was making the androgynous outfit trendy. In other terms, the fashion re-became a masculine matter. And althought these stuff were not coordinated, they all nourished themselves. Our spirit at this time was to make affordable jeans in a context where jeans were much more expansive.
How did you manage the end of this era?
Quite naturally, in fact. Since the beginning, music was a big part of our DNA (we even launched a label), and as a musician, I was listening to other musics beyond rock. The inspiration of the collections was still music but more blues for example. We kept some basic pieces like the Joey jeans, but we more looked at Native American culture for instance.
How do you work today?
From the beginning, I’m the stylist of the collections, and we used to be a family business. As we grew very quickly, it was important then to stabilize, to find a balance and to built strong fondations. It took a few years, but I found a small team to surround me and to help me to develop. I like the idea to be able to adopt a true creation approach while staying affordable.
Two words about the new shop in Paris?
We wanted to make something different from the first one, based rue de Saintonge. We wanted a more modern but still very comfortable place. Federico Masotto designed it, inspired by the German Bauhaus movement, with neon lights and marble.
What’s coming next?
In the past few years the label was softened, but we are about to relaunch it in the following months, in Los Angeles, helping some brands we like there. We want to develop the women’s collection, too. And if everything is going well, we plan to open another boutique in Paris, on the left-bank, then why not open others in capitals, like London or Tokyo. I will keep going on until I have explored the subject from all angles