A Bathing Ape (or Bape), is a Japanese clothing label created in 1993 by Tomoaki "Nigo" Nagao. The company specializes in urban street wear, operating stores in Japan, including BAPE, BAPE Store, Foot Soldier and the Bape Exclusive store (located in Aoyama, Tokyo). There are also stores located in Hong Kong, London, New York, Taipei and Los Angeles. Nigo also founded the women's clothing lines "APEE", and "BAPY", the female "couture" clothing line.
Nigo, founder and owner, cites his mother and father, who were a nurse and a billboard maker respectively, as major influences in the development of his character. Though because they both worked, he spent a lot of time alone with toys. These days, he has one of the biggest collections of Star Wars and Planet Of The Apes memorabilia.
His nickname literally means "number two" in Japanese; the MD of Astoarobot, the fashion store, coined the moniker when he noted the physical resemblance to Fujiwara. Nigo cites his early influences as Elvis, The Beatles and hip-hop acts such as Run DMC and Woobens. He also credits DJ/Head Porter designer Hiroshi Fujiwara as his business model.
After studying fashion editing at college, he worked as an editor and a stylist for Popeye Magazine. After borrowing four million yen from an acquaintance, who also let him use his shop, he opened "Nowhere", his first store, on April 1, 1993 in Harajuku, Tokyo. Deciding to start his own brand, he named it after the 1968 film Planet of the Apes. According to Nigo, the name "A Bathing Ape" is short for a Japanese saying "bathing in lukewarm water". Japanese people typically have daily baths in water at temperatures above 40 degrees celsius (104Â°F). As such, bathing in luke warm water is to complacently over indulge. This is, ironically, a reference to the lazy oppulence of the younger generation of Japanese, the brand's own customers. To expose the brand he gave T-shirts to Cornelius who wore them when performing. For two years he produced 30 to 50 shirts a week, selling half and giving half to friends.
In 1997, Nigo released his debut album 'Ape Sounds' under Mo'Wax, with DJ/Producer James Lavelle of UNKLE.
In January 2005, Nigo and Pharrell Williams launched the first "A Bathing Ape" store in New York. The official name, according to the salespeople at the store, is "Bathing Ape in Lukewarm Water." Nigo is also co-owner and head designer of Williams' Billionaire Boys Club.
In 2006, Nigo and N-Kei Enzaki started a record company, Ape Sounds, with help from James Lavelle (Mo'Wax). He serves as a producer and director for his CDs, blending Western hip-hop with Asian sounds. Lavelle wore a BAPE t-shirt on the cover his mix album Global Underground 023: Barcelona.
Nigo aims to keep Bape in line with High-Fashion designers, that is why the line is quite expensive as A Bathing Ape does not mass produce like other mainstream clothing lines. Alot of celebrities are known for wearing Bape such as Pharell Williams, Lil' Wayne, Kanye West, The Clipse, Lupe Fiasco, Jay-Z, Chad Hugo, Ludacris and many more.
Check out this segment with Nigo, showing off one of his cribs and awesome Toy Collection, also shows a bit on his group The Teriyaki Boyz and why Bape is so popular.
This is from the Bape TV archives, Bape TV segment from June, 2005, Nigo presents N.E.R.D, Special visit In Tokyo. The video above is a special from Bape TV, check out a video from Bape TV show, Nigoldeneye:
Bape founder Nigo teamed up with MTV Japan to bring you Bape TV. The Show was launched in Hong Kong, and featured artists such as Pharrell Williams, Kanye West, N.E.R.D, and Nigos' group, The Teryaki Boyz.
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