In January 2018, Jean Touitou, A.P.C.’s founder and creative director, flew to Berlin to meet with Kanye West, who was working on new music. While he was there, Kanye played him his then-upcoming joint album with Kid Cudi, Kids See Ghosts. Touitou was floored by what he heard. “After I heard the record, I felt [Kid Cudi] had something extremely strong but fragile at the same time,” he remembers. “I, myself, happen to be a fragile person. I am fragile even if A.P.C. is strong. So I said, ‘Why don’t I try to reach out to him?’ He tried to reach out to me 10 years ago and I didn’t respond because I had no idea what I could do.”
Touitou eventually got in touch with Cudi and began working on what would become their first “interaction”—Touitou prefers this term over collaboration. “I remember last June, it was one call every three days to adjust things,” Touitou says. “I’d be somewhere on a small island in the south of Italy, and he’d be in L.A.”
Today, nearly a year after Touitou first had the idea to work with Cudi, A.P.C. is officially unveiling the INTERACTION#1 A.P.C. x Kid Cudi, which you can exclusively preview here for the first time. The 10-piece collection (available Feb. 21) was inspired by various pieces from A.P.C.’s archive and Touitou’s current designs. It includes a white, paint-splattered T-shirt; Petit Standard raw denim and Petit New Standard jeans in stonewashed indigo, both of which have the words “Dream On” embroidered below the left pocket; paint-splattered denim overalls; a black/red/orange cardigan; a striped long-sleeve shirt; a red leather motorcycle jacket that features a drawing inspired by the work of William Blake on the back; and minimalist low-top sneakers available in red and white.
According to Touitou, Cudi was hands on with the project. He even suggested pieces that Touitou and A.P.C. likely would have never thought to include. “At the beginning, he just shopped the Spring  A.P.C. collection and, little by little, during the conversation, he was saying, 'Why don’t we add some splash of color on these T-shirts?' I said, 'OK. That’s easy,’” says Touitou. “And then he wanted to add pieces or colors that weren’t in the collection. For example, I would never have dared to do a red motorcycle jacket with a painting on the back of it. So I’m kind of glad because it pushed me to do things that my superego forbids me to do with A.P.C." Certain garments, like the cardigan and red sneakers, were 100 percent Cudi. “It really has his personality on it,” says Touitou.
This partnership should come as no surprise. Since coming onto the scene in the late 2000s, Kid Cudi has been a big fan of A.P.C. He rocked the brand regularly—in music videos, on magazine covers (including many of Complex’s shoots), etc.—and helped popularize A.P.C.’s Petit Standard raw indigo jeans. In 2010, he told TimeOut that he wears the same A.P.C. jeans every day, that A.P.C. is one of his “favorite local stores” in New York, and that he wanted to work with the French brand. “I’m trying to do a denim collaboration with A.P.C., but I haven’t reached that yet,” he said. “Hopefully they’ll read this and they’re down. Hint, hint, wink, wink, chop, chop.”
Touitou says Cudi did, in fact, reach out to them eventually. “Cudi had asked us, around 10 years ago, to dress him for a TV show,” he says. But he wasn’t familiar with who the Cleveland rapper was yet. “I was too busy doing other stuff and I had no idea. Even when Kanye came and visited me, everybody from my studio was getting crazy around me. I didn’t know why because I didn’t know him. Sometimes I just don’t know who people are, and I didn't know who Kanye was when he first came to A.P.C. nine years ago. At some point, I asked him, 'What do you do for a living?' I didn't know who Kanye was. I didn't know who Kid Cudi was." Now, a decade later, the regular at A.P.C.’s Mercer Street store is finally working with the brand.
The A.P.C. x Kid Cudi collection is the first of A.P.C.’s new INTERACTION series, which will see the brand work with various figures from fashion, music, and more. “I wanted to go out and work with intelligent and gifted people who could do something for me and I could do something for,” says Touitou. “It’s like inviting somebody to your kitchen and saying, ‘Oh, this is the way you do it? This is how I do it. Let’s find a way to say something about both of our personalities.’”
While Touitou wouldn’t divulge who else they’ll be working with, he hopes this collection with Cudi will be received well by fans and sell out—much like Kanye’s A.P.C. collaboration. “I hope so, because that was pretty successful,” he says.