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Entrepreneur Ramdane Touhami on Birkenstocks, His ’67 Ferves Ranger and the One Color He Won’t Wear

The creative powerhouse takes time out from his hectic schedule to discuss his many passions.

Ramdane Touhami Marion Berrin

The son of Moroccan immigrants, Ramdane Touhami created his first brand, the T-shirt line Teuchiland, when he was just 17 years old; a year later, he was homeless on the streets of Paris. Since then, the artist, designer and serial entrepreneur has taken on the worlds of fashion, beauty, art and PR. He created the skate brand King Size and streetwear label Résistance, cofounded the concept store L’Épicerie alongside artist Artus de Lavilléon, co-hosted the French reality television show Strip-Tease, owned a café and donkey polo club in Tangier, Morocco, served as menswear director for Liberty London, revitalized Japanese fashion retail brand And A and resuscitated the storied Parisian candlemaker Maison de Cire Trudon.

Today, married to French aristocrat Victoire de Taillac-Touhami, with whom he has three children, Touhami oversees the couple’s growing empire of natural-cosmetic emporiums, L’Officine Universelle Buly. His latest endeavor, creative agency Art, Recherche & Industrie, is targeting apps, hotels, coffeehouses and the fashion industry.

What have you done recently for the first time?

Going on holidays. Seriously, I never take holidays, no more than three days. And for the first time, I did 10 days in the Swiss mountains with my family and friends. We went to the most beautiful little place, Chandolin.

What, apart from more time, would make the biggest difference to your life?

No news. A world with no news could be an amazing world.

What apps do you use the most?

Google Translate. People send me messages in Korean, Japanese, Chinese, Arabic… Every morning, I have to send a message to my Japanese and Hong Kong staff. It’s a lot of languages.

First thing you do in the morning?

I work out. It’s a nine-minute workout, a series of exercises using all the muscle groups.

A Turgot map of Paris, done in 1762

A Turgot map of Paris, done in 1762.  Shutterstock

What’s the most recent thing you’ve added to your collection?

A Turgot map of Paris, five meters long, done in 1762.

What advice do you wish you’d followed?

Listen more. Sometimes it’s better to listen than to talk.

What do you do that’s still analog?

Drawing, vinyl, calligraphy.

Do you have any pets?

Yes, two dogs—one big, one small. A Braque and a Jack Russell.

If you could learn a new skill, what would it be?

To write kanji. I love the complexity: the fact that it says one word but means something else. I have a passion for Japanese, and I want to be able to read all books in Japanese.

Ramdane Touhami

Marion Berrin

What in your wardrobe do you wear most often?

Birkenstocks. I have 42 pairs.

Do you have a uniform for certain occasions?

No. I don’t wear black. Only rule.

How do you find calm?

Listening to strange podcasts, like by ex–Secret Service people. When I drive my car, I love to listen to podcasts. For me, it’s like being Zen. I can stop thinking about work.

Who is your dealer, and what do they source for you?

A guy who sells antiques on rue Jacob in Paris sources my old maps. I always love traveling, and I love the planet, and I love the history of maps. For example, in the 15th century, they knew about Japan. Even if they didn’t do a tour around Japan, they knew the shape, and I love that—the evolution of the shape, the country.

The most recent thing you regret not buying?

A 1962 Ferrari 2+2.

; a couscous dish served in a tagine

A couscous dish served in a tagine.  Shutterstock

What’s the most impressive dish you cook?

Couscous. It looks simple, but it’s very technical. I learned with the best teacher, who was my grandmother. I love to create strange couscous dishes, like I’ll mix a Moroccan harira with a Japanese udon.

What is your exercise routine, and how often do you do it?

Boxing with my favorite coach, Florent Lazare.

What does success look like to you?

Strange. I was homeless 25 years ago.

How much do you trust your gut instinct?

One hundred percent confident with a taste of paranoia.

Buly in Paris

Buly in Paris.  Shutterstock

Which are your three favorite stores?

Kapital and Akomeya in Tokyo, Buly in Paris.

Where do you get your clothes?

Only in Japan, due to the sizes. I am short!

What do you most regret?

Not laughing enough per day.

Drive or be driven?

I drive, always. I’d rather drive a car than take a train or a plane because I love the ride.

If you could stick at one age, what would it be, and why?

Now! Forty-five is the best—not too old, not too young, not too stupid.

If you could be anywhere in the world right now, where would you be?

Argentina, I think. Because I like it. It has this kind of European vibe, and the wildness, and the way they eat, the way they live.

What’s always in your hand luggage?

Two simple things: a passport and a credit card. You don’t need more.

The Ferves Ranger

The Ferves Ranger.  Shutterstock

What is the car you are most attached to?

My little Ferves Ranger from 1967, because it looks unique and it looks like me—tiny. Some cars look aggressive, some cars look nice and smiley: My car, when you look at the lighting and everything, it looks like a little dumb character.

Do you still write letters?

Of course, and I’m militant about it. We need to write.

Last Netflix binge?

Not Netflix, but HBO. Succession. Oh my God. Amazing.

What’s your favorite neighborhood in your favorite city?

Daikanyama, Tokyo, in spring.

Bowie or Dylan?

Bowie

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