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Michaël Azoulay takes a tactile approach

Debonair chats to the Frenchman who mixes his European culture with US spirit for American Vintage

It’s crucial to maintain and develop human relationships and never resort to a 100 per cent digital model.

My earliest fashion memory is… I really discovered the world of fashion at my first retail trade show in 1998 — the stands, the big buildings, the different halls... I felt like I was from a small town, arriving in Paris and discovering the ready-to-wear trade show. Amidst all these names in fashion, I felt stunned. It was all very impressive.

The most stylish item I own is… In my opinion, a white crewneck T-shirt is a timeless piece and goes perfectly with a pair of jeans.

My most valuable item is… My watch is a precious piece with sentimental value, and it’s a key men’s accessory. A white T-shirt and a beautiful watch are all I need.

The difference between fashion and style is… Style is very personal. It allows you to show off your personality — unlike fashion, which is a more fleeting notion. Being fashionable means going with the flow, whereas you can really stand out with your own style.

It’s crucial to maintain and develop human relationships and never resort to a 100 per cent digital model.

What are your thoughts on accessories? Accessories are essential. They’re kind of like the cherry on the cake — they bring an outfit to life. For me, in the textile world, certain pieces can be considered accessories: a coat or a jumper can enhance a look just like a bag can.

When I shop I… I usually do my shopping when I travel on my own, especially to Japan, Belgium and the UK, and not just for ready-to-wear but also for design pieces. I make the most of these moments to get inspired and enjoy some me-time.

Do you prefer bricks or clicks? I love shopping in stores. I generally don’t buy anything online. Discovering collections on the web doesn’t interest me. I need to actually touch and feel the clothing. That said, I use the internet to get information.

Who would you say is the most stylish man to have ever lived? James Dean, for his classic white T-shirt and jeans aesthetic, and Sean Connery for his British look.

If you could invite three designers to a dinner party, who would you invite and what would you serve? I would love to have Spanish architect and interior designer Patricia Urquiola, Carl Hansen, who founded Danish furniture brand Carl Hansen & Søn, Israeli celebrity chef Eyal Shani and the team behind Acne Studios. On the menu: an aperitif with tasting dishes to share, including olives, sun-dried tomatoes and tapenade; rice, tomato and tuna salad with a beer for starters; mains would be grilled marinated mackerels with pepper and salt crisps, served with a good red wine; and ginger and orange sorbet for dessert. The concept of sharing is essential, of getting together while enjoying delicious food.

The one item I cant live without is… my wedding band. I never take it off.

What I like best about my position is… that it gives me a 360-degree view, from creativity to sales development. This makes me constantly re-evaluate everything. For me, working in fashion is a way to stay eternally young.

What are your thoughts on the industry? It’s one that evolves very quickly, which is why it’s necessary to have an international and long-term vision. We will end up consuming less but better products, which makes creativity, audacity and an open mind essential. It’s crucial to maintain and develop human relationships and never resort to a 100 per cent digital model. We have to use new technologies as a means to an end, not as an end in themselves.

If I weren’t in the fashion industry, I would… be a chef, while remaining close to my clients. Alternatively I’d be a trainer for a team sport.

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