Timberland has officially cut its ties with A.P.C. following racially inflammatory moves by A.P.C. designer Jean Touitou in Paris last weekend.
During A.P.C.’s fall menswear runway show, where models took the stage in overcoats, sweatpants and A.P.C.-designed Timberland boots, Touitou held up a sign that said: “Last Ni##@$ IN PARIS,” according to Style.com. He then explained to the audience, “I call this one look Last N—-s in Paris. Why? Because it’s the sweet spot when the ‘hood — the ‘hood — meets Bertolucci’s movie ‘Last Tango in Paris.’ So that’s ‘N—-s in Paris’ and ‘Last N—-s in Paris.’ … Yes, I mean, it’s nice to play with the strong signifiers. The Timberland here is a very strong ghetto signifier. In the ghetto, it is all the Timberlands, all the big chain.”
The bootmaker did not take kindly to Touitou’s use of the derogatory term, nor to his calling their product a “ghetto signifier.” Timberland’s president, Stewart Whitney, responded Wednesday, as first reported by The Cut.
“Yesterday we became aware of the offensive remarks made by Jean Touitou during his A.P.C. Fall Menswear show in Paris,” Whitney said in a statement sent to Footwear News. “We have chosen to immediately terminate our involvement with the A.P.C. brand, including the footwear collaboration we had planned for this fall. Simply stated, this kind of language and approach is in complete contrast with our values. Timberland seeks to collaborate with designers and brands who are at the forefront of lifestyle trends; equally important, they must also share our values. We will not tolerate offensive language or racial slurs of any kind being associated with the Timberland brand.”
In an email to Style.com after the runway show, Touitou defended his language by noting his friendship and work with Kanye West (who co-wrote “N—-s in Paris” with Jay Z).
“I am friends with Kanye, and he and I presented a joint collection at the same place, one year ago, and this thing is only an homage to our friendship,” he told the site. “As a matter of fact, when I came up with this idea, I wrote to him, with the picture of the look and the name I was giving to it, and he wrote back immediately, saying something like, ‘I love this vibe.'”
Update: On Thursday, Touitou issued an apology for his use of the N-word. “When describing our brand’s latest collaboration, I spoke recklessly using terms that were both ignorant and offensive,” Touitou said in a written statement to WWD. “I apologize and am deeply regretful for my poor choice of words, which are in no way a reflection of my personal views.”