Alexandre Mattiussi of AMI Paris on Navigating Fashion in a Time of Crisis
There's still a long way to go before the fashion industry can draw a line under the Covid-19 crisis. As governments around the world slowly start to reopen their economies and consumers begin to leave their homes, things are considerably different than before.
With AMI Paris' 10th anniversary coming up, we spoke to the brand’s creator and founder, Alexandre Mattiussi, to see how he is navigating fashion in a time of crisis.
Mattiussi founded AMI Paris in 2011. In no time, the brand was a favourite with fashion editors, buyers and then consumers. The spirit of the brand (and by extension Mattiussi himself) is all about his friends and the community around him - it couldn't have been a more fitting time to catch up with him.
GQME: What are some of the biggest changes you’ve made in your daily life to adjust to the situation we’re currently facing?
Alexandre Mattiussi: The biggest change was to reimagine new ways of working with my team. There are approximately 130 people working as a part of the AMI family, this includes our HQs and 8 stores around the world. My priority was for each one of these 130 people to feel safe so as soon as we were aware of the different governments’ lockdown announcements, we implemented a work from home dynamic for the different teams. This worked incredibly well, and I am happy to say that during all that time we were able to work in a super nice atmosphere filled with empathy, joy and friendship – values that are cherished and close to AMI since I founded the brand. As for me as a person, I was able to slow down the rhythm of my life in general and take some “me” time, which was incredibly beneficial, and I feel full of energy now.
How are you keeping in touch with your friends and family during this time?
Through WhatsApp, Instagram and of course FaceTime! That’s the advantage of living in this very particular situation in 2020, we can be “close” to the people we love thanks to technology.
Do you feel that your creative expression has been influenced or altered during this time and how?
Yes, and not only that! It’s strange but during this time I’ve been feeling just like when I launched AMI, back in the day I was completely alone at the office, and I think that this allowed my creative flow to grow a lot. Also, as I have more “free” time and I’ve been able to read books that I left in standby a while ago as well as watching movies that I’ve been meaning to watch for a long time, that was also incredibly inspiring and I’m sure it will contribute to my creative expression.
How have you steered team dynamics during this time where everyone had to work from home?
We had to think of new ways of working - video conferences were the rule and I had video calls with the different teams on a daily basis. I’m surprised at how well everything worked out because even if a part of the world was in “stand by” we could not allow ourselves to stop planning and creating the next collection which is Spring Summer 2021. Of course we felt since the very beginning that Fashion Week would not take place but that doesn’t mean that our collection won’t be presented in a different way, and also I hope that once all of this is over people will feel inspired to look for beautiful clothes again.
What are some of the biggest challenges you’re facing as a business during this time?
The biggest challenge has definitely been to keep working but at the same time put the safety of the AMI teams in first place. And I know this is only the first of many challenges related to this crisis but I’m confident about the future, AMI is a solid brand faithful to its values and we will adapt to the new reality in different aspects: whether it is sustainability, producing less, going back to only 2 collections every year instead of 4, we will see! In any case I’m working day to day with my team in finding solutions to manage every challenge coming our way.
What is one thing you’ve learnt from this experience in social distancing?
That would be appreciation. To appreciate even more the persons that I love as well as the “simple” pleasures of life.
The AMI Paris SS20 collection seems more relevant than ever with minimalism being at the heart of it. Also, very Parisian. How does Paris inspire your work as a city?
Yes, it is a very minimalistic collection indeed. I wanted to make clothes that were close to my original sketches: monochromatic, simple and without exaggerated volumes or textures.
Paris inspires me every day and it’s the heart of AMI, there is something about this city and its people, this nonchalance of being elegant but at the same time cool and carefree.
With physical stores having to close their doors, how has this affected the roll-out of the AMI Paris SS20 collection?
Yes, the SS20 collection was touched by the stores’ closure but we are “lucky” to have a solid customer base in our e-shop, where sales are strong, this definitely reduced the impact of the crisis.
Have you seen a change in the buying structure/model during this time and how do you think it’ll look like in the future?
We cannot deny that changes must be made, for how long, nobody knows, so we better start with solid bases. We are currently working in a digital showroom that will help us present the next collection to buyers and partners. Once again, technology will be a great ally in this transition.
Given how much the current pandemic has restricted international movement, do you think we will start to see a move towards more sustainable and locally sourced menswear over the coming seasons?
Of course, not only fashion, but a lot of industries will start sourcing materials and producing locally. Let’s see how things evolve but as I said before, I’m confident about the future and I think this whole situation will have a positive impact on the ways fashion brands work.
What’s the most exciting thing that came out of this experience for you and what are you looking forward to post Covid-19?
The most exciting was to be able to live at a different rhythm but that doesn’t mean that I don’t miss certain things from “normal” life such as traveling. And that’s the thing that I’m looking forward to: traveling, especially going to the beach!