A very strong statement against almost everything.

That's how Jean Touitou, the founder and owner of French fashion label A.P.C., described the beginnings of his brand in an interview to discuss the company's 30 year history. Browse through the racks of pared-down clothes at any of its warm but sparsely decorated shops, though, and you may not see the connection.

A.P.C. clothes have always been what the fashion crowd likes to call "basics.” handsome, but unassuming garments; trim, but not tight—thoughtful design, but in a way that's directed towards the wearer rather than his audience, with a uniquely French feeling of insouciance. A.P.C.'s offerings have a way of looking and feeling right, without ever quite providing a clear why. The same words tend to appear in any description of the brand: basic, simple, minimal. They're apt, but don't quite capture the full story.

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