43-year-old Michaël Azoulay is the CEO (and happy founder) of American Vintage. Between two meetings (and kids), he talks to us about his vision for the brand.
How does American Vintage define itself today?
By its values, above all. Pleasure, freedom, sharing and mixing. We concentrate all this in our materials, our colours and our stylism.
Do you have muses? Celebrities who inspire you?
At the beginning, in 2005, we thought of the Birkin and Gainsbourg family, the mother, the daughters, or faces such as Scarlett Johansson. It was purist, sensual. Today, we no longer have muses. We are a state of mind accessible to everyone, between weekend wear and urban wear. American Vintage is you, me, us. It’s an attitude.
Is that why you’ve only shot “real people” and not models for the last three seasons?
Exactly. Encounters and personalities will always play a bigger role than our product. Our pieces help reveal people. They help spotlight them, not camouflage them. We’ve changed so much since 2005! Starting in Marseille, we’re now present internationally, in Europe, Asia, the United States… This drives our creativity, of course, but also our open-mindedness.
A shot from the American Vintage spring/summer 2022 campaign
Can you tell us a little about your CSR commitments? What form is this taking at American Vintage?
We are growing the brand with natural dyes, recycled materials, a “Dry Indigo” process for denim that consumes less water… Our research & development is always on the go. Since 2019, we jumped from 10% responsible collections to 22% in summer 2022. And this doesn’t stop at the product. Our teams are also responsible. In “CSR” (Corporate Social Responsibility), we can’t forget the “S” for “Social”. We are boosting the teams’ versatility, experience, autonomy, freedom and self-confidence.
A meeting at the American Vintage head office in Signes
We heard someone at your office say that you don’t green-light a product if it doesn’t “feel right”. What does that mean?
It’s a gut feeling! And it’s based on experience. I learn from everything. From the people, numbers, countries, customer feedback. I train my eye, I question it, I confront it on the field. I have discussions.
How have you evolved as the head of the company since 2005?
Things are always changing. Thanks to fashion, I stay eternally young. The years go by quickly in this field. But clothing keeps my mind sharp. I’m 43 and, in 20 years of this career and 16 years of this brand, I’ve changed and evolved on every level: knowledge, understanding, management, vision, gaining perspective… It’s impossible to get bored.
What do you think of the American Vintage collection for spring/summer 2022?
I love this collection, which is even more colourful than in previous years. It’s textured, vibrant, sensitive. In terms of merchandising, we can really play with heights, weights, lengths, treatments, washes. The style teams had so much fun! And it shows. It’s rhythmic, lively. It’s a collection with a soul.
AMV Journal is a space dedicated to encounters, discovery and travel. Every week, explore the musts, portraits and inspirations of American Vintage and its creation studio.