Gimme 5 x APC: “The Godfather” of streetwear does his best


Streetwear is a world of hardline egos, but Michael Kopelman, who founded influential distributor and agency Gimme 5 in London in 1989, is disarmingly modest. “I always do my best,” says Kopelman, who as an original member of the Stüssy tribe helped make this brand an international brand, brought lines like Hysteric Glamor and A Bathing Ape to the UK and collaborated with fashion icons like Judy Blame and James Lebon. “I still make mistakes.”

But Jean Touitou, the founder of APC, has another way of characterizing Kopelman and his influence on streetwear: “Quite simply, the godfather”, he explains. And his modesty is what Touitou likes about him: “I’m good enough not to make my own work known, but it’s even better than me. he is therefore discreet. Her voice is calm. I really like that. He’s not shouting, “I’m a radical,” but I think he’s a radical.

“In short,” Touitou continues, “I think he’s very classy.


Touitou and Kopelman are old friends. Touitou sold Gimme 5 in his Magasin Général concept-shop, and they have known each other for about thirty years. And now, together, they’ve developed a little capsule – one of what APC calls its “interactions” – of graphic T-shirts and a crew-neck sweatshirt.

Two of the pieces of the APC-Gimme 5 “interaction”

Courtesy of Gimme Five / Michael Kopelman / APC

Courtesy of Gimme Five / Michael Kopelman / APC

The pieces are simple, a little cleaner on the palate at a time when T-shirt designs can get as dense as Hieronymous Bosch panels. They chose a design from the archives – the Gimme Five logo on a biker – and Kopelman designed a second with graphic designer Stephan Rayon, tweaking an “obscure” 60s image of a buggy with the message “FOR THOSE WHO LEAVE THEIR OWN WAY. He said: “I really like the idea that people have their own minds and think for themselves”, adding: “This is something that was not done to please someone. one other than me. “

“Maybe it’s a hymn to independence,” Touitou said to himself. “It’s very symbolic and yet it’s very beautiful. It’s so easy to make a powerful logo without any meaning.

The project was born organically. Touitou has an archive of personal pieces and past projects, and his kids have recently rummaged there and gone wild for his old Gimme 5 collaborations. “I was watching them on my son and daughter,” Touitou says, “and I thought, man, these things were so powerful. ” So he called Kopelman – they had recently worked together when he introduced Touitou to Brain Dead, the LA-based brand Kopelman is currently working with on Gimme 5 – and then set something up.

Courtesy of Gimme Five / Michael Kopelman / APC
Courtesy of Gimme Five / Michael Kopelman / APC

Kopelman came of age in the industry when streetwear was synonymous with subculture, and now it’s arguably the backbone of mainstream and runway fashion. What does he think of this change? “I’m not that smart, really,” Kopelman said. “I don’t really understand it. I try to never look back.


Yet what does he think of, say, customers who see certain eras of Supreme, or Stüssy, as golden ages, or see these companies as legacy brands – the very instinct that drove the children of Touitou to remove Kopelman’s original pieces from the archive? “I’m a little too close to everything to have a perspective,” he says. But, with deference to comedian Eddie Izzard, he paints a picture of a carousel: just as you step off the ride, “you see other people going up and they’re really excited and excited. You keep going around, and you keep seeing new people getting on the ride.

Courtesy of Gimme Five / Michael Kopelman / APC
Courtesy of Gimme Five / Michael Kopelman / APC

The fashion world is fascinated, especially in recent times, by channeling bygone eras and redesigning things that were once revolutionary into nostalgic journeys for the present. But Kopelman is much more interested in what connects with today’s young streetwear client. “For me, I just see Supreme hooking up with young kids here [in London], and for me, it’s perfect. This is perfect. And we see Stüssy connecting with young kids here, and that’s perfect. What a success for each of these companies. “

In addition to Brain Dead, Kopelman now works with brands such as Fucking Awesome, Know Wave, and Suicoke. “I don’t want to lunch on what I did 20 years ago,” he says. “I’m only really interested now. This is what interests me. But it’s just for me.

Touitou feels the same. “Guys like that? They are very precious to me.


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