Alexandre Mattiussi: Making Evergreen Menswear for the Everyman
There are some fashion insiders who call Alexandre Mattiussi “a one in a generation” fashion designer. And I would have to agree with that assessment. He is a bit of a fashion unicorn in that, not only is he a down to earth, friendly and gregarious guy who happens to be a very talented fashion designer, he also has a real head for – and a love of – both the business of fashion and the theatricality of it.
Born in 1980 in the Normandy countryside, Alexandre studied at the Duperré fashion design school in Paris and decided to specialize in menswear design as he astutely saw that the market was much less saturated than the womenswear market at that time.
Early on, back in 2002, he tried his hand at starting his own business, selling t-shirts he had designed but decided to press pause on that adventure to really learn his trade inside the walls of established menswear brands before stepping out on his own. To this end, he worked at Dior’s “30 Montaigne” menswear line and then joined Givenchy where for five years he built up real-world experience as he led the menswear design team before the arrival of Riccardo Tisci at the house. Following that, he had a stint designing for Marc Jacobs Men.
It was while at Marc Jacobs, as he was working on some ultra-luxury menswear items, that Alexandre had his sartorial epiphany. The beautiful things he was creating, though he would never be able to afford to buy them, he wanted to create clothing that he would see being worn on the street –clothing that would make people happy as they went about living their lives.
And so, in 2011 his brand, AMI, was born. The name, which means friend in French but is also the composition of his initials and the last letter of his last name perfectly encapsulates both the designer and his designs. He seems to be friends with everyone and everyone wants to be friends with him. And his clothing does act like friends for those who wear them. This is a brand filled with staple wardrobe pieces; the perfectly cut pair of trousers, the great chunky sweater and the evergreen outerwear– menswear that was so well done that women wound up flocking to his work, and also wearing his designs.
Today, AMI has over 300 stocklists across the globe and online and has freestanding stores in Paris, Tokyo, London, and China. And last year he finally launched a “menswear for women” line in response to the high demand for his designs by women around the world.
I caught up with Alexandre at his headquarters in Paris after he and I had both just returned from a whirlwind tour of Asia. I was attending Shanghai Fashion Week and Tokyo Fashion Week and he also happened to be there as well. He was showing his first collection outside of Paris in Shanghai at the same time as its fashion week, and then held an event in Japan during its fashion week. All of it was a way to thank his Asian customers and friends who have become a very big part of his business.
What did I tell you, Alexandre, a savvy businessman, but an even better friend.
Jessica Michault is the Senior Vice President of industry relations at GPS Radar by Launchmetrics. She is also the editor-at-large for ODDA magazine and contributes to publications like the New York Times, the Business of Fashion, Vogue, Harper's Bazaar and Mixte magazine.
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