You may not have heard of AMI — the Parisian menswear label founded by Alexandre Mattiussi in 2011 — but undoubtedly you know someone who swears by it. A pared-back, reassuringly priced phenomenon which goes out of its way not to intimidate, AMI is loved by those who appreciate the merits of a well-cut pea-coat and find joy in the perfect grey marl sweatshirt. Imagine COS and Sunspel had a baby who grew up in Paris’s 3rd Arrondissement and you’ll understand why it resonates with a breed of modern man seeking well-made clothes that don’t scream “fashion”.
Moreover, you’ll appreciate why more and more women are looking to Mattiussi’s brand for low-profile basics. And you’ll understand why next month AMI will launch its first womenswear collection in its Duke Street store.
“When we started out, we launched for men because I wanted to be clear and straight to the point,” notes the designer, who headed up menswear for Givenchy and worked with Marc Jacobs before returning to focus on his own project in 2011. “But very quickly women started to join them. It was a lovely, organic thing.”
Just as men were coming to AMI (the brand has 10 stores and is available at Liberty, Mr Porter and many more) for great everyday trousers and shirts, women were joining them. “Never push back a girl who wants to try men’s trousers. It’s a very special look,” says Mattiussi. “From early on, two or three clients in 10 was a woman.”
To cater to the demand, the designer has been slowly growing his business’s womenswear offering. At his Paris Fashion Week show in June, 15 of the looks were designed with the female customer base in mind. A collection spanning sumptuous overcoats, crew-neck sweaters and oversized floral blouses is the result. “I want to do something more feminine but keep my environment masculine,” says Mattiussi of the collection. “It’s a game, in that sense.”
An accessible price point — the average sweatshirt is less than £200 — also sets AMI apart. “I’ve always struggled with the idea of not being able to afford something you design. For me it’s about honesty,” he adds.
Undoubtedly, it’s this no-nonsense approach that will entice new fans to the label. In a world loaded with trend-led fashion and logos, the appeal of Mattiussi’s aesthetic is the simplicity. That and Mattiussi’s show-stopping ability to cut a great coat. “The most important thing for me is to create clothes that people love and enjoy to wear. I don’t look at it in an intellectual or contextual way,” he says.
Is AMI anti-fashion? “Trying to be fashionable is a dangerous game. There are some designers who want to be famous, who want to be celebrated, but I want to build something strong. I don’t want to be famous. Or part of the club. I want to deliver a beautifully done collection that people are going to wear. I don’t need them to think it’s cool or fashionable or the most hyped thing of the moment. From that point of view you don’t design in the same way.”
Accordingly, AMI doesn’t deal in statement looks but in longevity: “The contract between the brand and the customer should be to make the clothes last as long as possible so that you can wear it — I still see people in Paris wearing my first collection from eight or nine years ago and it still makes sense.”