BAPE: The Iconic Streetwear Legacy


Japanese streetwear model, BAPE, has had a maintain on Hip-Hop vogue for over 20 years. What started as an unique model in Japan within the Nineties has now change into a cultural phenomenon, particularly within the Hip-Hop sphere. BAPE’s signature “ape” emblem and “BAPE camouflage” design have graced too many Hip-Hop music movies to depend, and the model continues to be worn and rapped about right now. So, how did a small start-up from Japan develop into one of the vital recognizable streetwear manufacturers on the earth? Right here’s a take a look at the legacy of BAPE.

Beginnings In Japan

Nigo, the founding father of BAPE, fashioned the model in 1993 after opening the shop NOWHERE within the well-known Ura-Harajuku vogue district in Japan. Nigo partnered with a pal from vogue faculty, Jun Takahashi, to create the shop. The 2 additionally had immense assist from the “Godfather of Harajuku,” Hiroshi Fujiwara. Fujiwara was already a significant participant in Japan’s streetwear scene and one of many first Hip-Hop DJs in Japan. Along with his co-sign, NOWHERE discovered success early in its creation.

Quickly after NOWHERE opened, Nigo used it because the flagship retailer for BAPE. The model’s identify, A Bathing Ape, got here from the Japanese phrase, “a showering ape in lukewarm water,” which referred to youth who lived sheltered lives and solely centered on faculty. The identify was additionally about The Planet of the Apes movie franchise. This additionally led to the well-known “ape” emblem being featured on a lot of the model’s clothes.

The Significance Of Exclusivity

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CHIBA, JAPAN – NOVEMBER 24: A basic view of A Bathing Ape popup retailer through the press preview for Tokyo Comedian Con 2022 at Makuhari Messe on November 24, 2022 in Chiba, Japan. (Picture by Jun Sato/WireImage)

BAPE’s early success in Japan got here from its exclusivity. All through the Nineties, Nigo solely made about fifty shirts per week and would give half of them to creatives and influencers to generate buzz. By 1998, over forty shops bought the model, but Nigo determined to drag it from these shops and solely promote it in a single central location. Amazingly, the model’s gross sales have been equal, and probably higher, out of that one retailer than in all forty.

Round this time, Nigo additionally opened a boutique named Busy Works in Hong Kong. Persevering with the development of exclusivity, Nigo made it extraordinarily troublesome for consumers to entry the shop. Those that needed to buy on the retailer needed to bear an software course of that concerned acquiring a Hong Kong passport. If accredited, they then needed to make appointments to enter the shop. Round this time, rappers such because the Infamous B.I.G. additionally started to put on the model as its reputation started to skyrocket.

BAPE Enters The USA

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LOS ANGELES – AUGUST 11: Musicians Pharrell Williams (L) and Nigo (R) attends the press convention launching “Reebok’s Billionaire Boys Membership attire line and Ice Cream footwear assortment” at The Lounge on August 11, 2004 in Los Angeles, California. (Picture by Mark Mainz/Getty Photos)

In 2002, Nigo took the model one step additional as he created the Bapesta shoe, which resembled Nike Air Power 1’s design. Nevertheless, by means of his assembly with Pharrell, BAPE may take off in the USA. Pharrell, a member of the group, N.E.R.D. on the time, was one of many earliest artists to repeatedly sport the model in the USA. Regardless of this, Nigo’s introduction to the rapper got here from a mutual acquaintance, Jacob the Jeweler. The bling icon talked about to Nigo that his commissioned items have been much like these of Pharrell’s, and ultimately, the 2 met in Tokyo.

With this connection to Pharrell, BAPE started skyrocketing in the USA. The partnership between Nigo and Pharrell grew in 2005, as the 2 co-created the model Billionaire Boys Membership and Ice Cream. By 2005, BAPE was rising right into a staple of Hip-Hop vogue in the USA. As well as, it could quickly hit its “golden age” in the USA.

Golden Age In The Mid-2000s

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NEW YORK – AUGUST 30: Designer Nigo, Hip-hop artists Pharrell Williams and Kanye West arrive on the Pharrell Williams & Absolut Ruby Crimson Pre-VMA Bash at Chinatown Brasserie August 30, 2006 in New York Metropolis. (Picture by Evan Agostini/Getty Photos)

In the course of the mid-2000s, BAPE grew to become a best-seller in American markets. Rappers reminiscent of Lil Wayne, Clipse, and Kanye West have been carrying and rapping in regards to the model. BAPE’s affect was so important that Pusha T and Lil Wayne even feuded over who knew in regards to the model first. In 2006, BAPE’s reputation had grown a lot, particularly concerning the Bapesta sneakers, that two flagship shops opened in New York Metropolis and Los Angeles.

Additionally in 2006, Kanye West designed his customized pair of Bapesta sneakers, which characteristic the well-known “Commencement Bear” from Kanye’s first three albums. This was certainly one of Kanye’s earliest vogue designs, lengthy earlier than the billion-dollar successes of Yeezy. 2005-2008 marked a “golden age” for BAPE, particularly in Hip-Hop tradition. Nevertheless, the model has lengthy outlasted that interval and continues to be extraordinarily fashionable right now.

BAPE’s Legacy At this time

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NEW YORK CITY, NY – JANUARY 11: Ambiance and sneakers attend Pharrell Williams Hosts the Retailer Opening of Nigo’s “A Bathing Ape” at A Bathing Ape Retailer on January 11, 2005 in New York Metropolis. (Picture by Michael Loccisano/Patrick McMullan by way of Getty Photos)

In 2011, Nigo bought BAPE however remained the artistic director for the model till 2013. Regardless of Nigo’s departure, the model continues to be alive, worn, and celebrated in Hip-Hop tradition. New items are nonetheless created, and lots of of BAPE’s archived items promote for big quantities of cash. Regardless of its humble beginnings, BAPE transcended vogue and have become synonymous with tradition, particularly through the mid-2000s. BAPE is without doubt one of the best streetwear manufacturers of all time, and its legacy continues to persist right now.



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