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APC Boss Explains Why He Said The N-Word On Runway: “I Am Friends With Kanye”

“The Timberland here is a very strong ghetto signifier.”

January 27, 2015

UPDATE 1/29/15 10:24 a.m.: Touitou has issued the following statement to GQ:

"When describing our brand's latest collaboration, I spoke recklessly using terms that were both ignorant and offensive. I apologize and am deeply regretful for my poor choice of words, which are in no way a reflection of my personal views."

UPDATE 1/28/15 4:55 p.m.: The Cut reports that Timberland has officially severed ties with Touitou. Here's the official statement from Timberland president Stuart Whitney:

Yesterday we became aware of the offensive remarks made by Jean Touitou during his A.P.C. Fall Menswear show in Paris. 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.

This past Saturday, A.P.C. founder Jean Touitou sent models down the runway for his fall presentation in cozy looks paired with customized Timberlands. As the last few models passed, Touitou held up a sign reading "Last N##@$ IN PARIS," a portmanteau of Kanye and Jay-Z's "Ni**as in Paris" and the infamous 1972 Bernardo Bertolucci film Last Tango in Paris. He explained the sign to Style.com as,

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. Not at the same time—never; it's bad taste. So we designed Timberlands with Timberland.

Touitou continued in that vein at length, and stood firm when asked to clarify his remarks over e-mail the following day, writing,

I made looks which are a cross-over of those two references: the Timberland shoes and the sweat pants are iconic of hip-hop, and the camel hair color coat, worn with nothing under it, is iconic of that precise movie. I am friends with Kanye, and he and I presented a joint collection at the same place, one year ago, and that this thing is only a homage to our friendship. 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.'

Lead Image: Chelsea Lauren / Getty Images.

APC Boss Explains Why He Said The N-Word On Runway: “I Am Friends With Kanye”