I had never heard of A.P.C. jeans before my sons, Nick and Peter — who were 18 and 20 at the time, each requested a pair. The fact that I was unfamiliar with this hip brand is no surprise since I don’t follow fashion and I don’t love to shop. For the similarly uninformed, the mystique of A.P.C. is all about raw denim — in this case, Japanese-woven fabric that has not been washed or distressed in any way. The material is super-stiff, kind of shiny and deeply blue. Most important: Raw denim allows the wearer to personalize his pants to his unique shape, complete with idiosyncratic crotch creases and under-the-butt fade marks.Off we went to the A.P.C. store in Soho, a bare-bones affair that aptly reflects the simplicity of its wares. Nick and Peter each selected a few pairs to try on, at which point hilarity ensued: Imagine two nearly six-foot-tall men trying to squeeze their lower halves into the top of a toothpaste tube. There was major wriggling and tugging and huffing and sucking-in going on in those dressing rooms. I could see their feet hopping and tripping and bracing against walls. In this battle, the pants seemed to be winning but ultimately, both sons emerged sweaty yet victorious, walking like twin Frankensteins toward the mirror for a look. I swear I had a pair of Wranglers in 1970 just like these. We called them dungarees back then and they probably cost eight bucks. These were $185. Good (dumb) mother that I am, both sons got their A.P.C.’s.
One other thing you must know about raw denim jeans is that you cannot wash them for a year! No matter if you spill beer in your lap or sit in a glob of omelet. No matter if your pants stink like a wet retriever. NO washing. However, you may turn your jeans inside out, spray them with Febreeze and stick them in the freezer overnight to kill whatever’s living on them. Could this get any sillier?
For the first week or two, Nick and Peter wore their A.P.C.’s only around the house since they looked ridiculous and felt worse, kind of like being in traction without the pulleys. But eventually, the jeans were broken in enough to allow their owners to sit on the subway or a barstool. These became their go-to pants, worn constantly. Lo and behold, I could see the body-contour-miracle taking place as the months went by. Eventually, the jeans softened, faded and fit as if custom made. Maybe not so silly after all?
The no-launder period was still in effect when the unthinkable happened. I scooped up a pile of dirty clothes from Nick’s floor. Yup, the A.P.C.’s were in there and I committed a terrible, terrible sin: I washed my son’s disgustingly dirty jeans. I thought about not confessing what I’d done but there was no hiding the obvious – those jeans were clean.
Fortunately, they were also fine. Nick’s denim doppelganger survived the spin cycle and my son forgave me. Then he asked for another pair, offering to chip in his own bucks for an A.P.C. run. I’m not a total pushover but he did have a strong case. For one thing, his original pair were worn at the knees and torn at the crotch. And, I had washed them.
So nearly a year after our first visit, back we went to the A.P.C. store. This time I thought: Maybe Mommy needs a pair of these magic pants. In the fitting room, I did my own version of the wiggle-jiggle-hop-tug for a half hour to no avail. The jeans were either too tight or too big; none fit my body the way they fit my sons’ and I knew they never would. Turns out, I’m a Rag & Bone girl. Those jeans fit great (and you can wash them as much as you want).
Jean Touitou, the founder of A.P.C., was recently interviewed by GQ magazine about the success of his brand. Here’s my favorite question and answer from that conversation:
Q: How often do you get a new pair of A.P.C. jeans?
A: You know, lately I’m trying to avoid wearing jeans. I prefer to wear sarongs, or a piece of fabric around my hips.
Attention, Nick and Peter. I’m definitely not buying you sarongs.
(Photo: Maegan Tintari/Flickr.com)