A Bathing Ape

A Bathing Ape (1993)

A Bathing Ape, known as BAPE, is a Japanese streetwear brand.

A Bathing Ape Bape, also known as BAPE, is a pioneering brand of streetwear, one of the first brands in the scene to create a true lifestyle. It was established in 1993 by Nigo, real name Tamaoki Nagao, who grew up with a passion for pop culture and subcultures. A DJ, drummer, and member of the hip hop group Teriyaki Boys, Nigo studied design at Bunka Fashion College where he met Jun Takahasi. Together they founded the brand Undercover and opened Nowhere, a small boutique in the Harajuku area.

In ’93, Nigo decided to found A Bathing Ape, choosing a name from a Japanese idiom used to describe the excessive indulgence of youth, A monkey bathing in lukewarm water. The name, besides reflecting the laziness of youth, recalls Nigo’s passion for the film Planet of the Apes.


Initially, the brand, partly due to a limited budget, produced few pieces, and what initially was an imposition turned into a winning strategy. Fifty pieces a week, half of which were sold in stores, the other half distributed among the creatives of the scene. In this way, BAPE was able to create a link between exclusivity and inclusivity, producing only to satisfy 10% of the demand and marketing its products in a few exclusive stores.

The Success of A Bathing Ape BAPE

The world of rap proved to be fundamental for the spread of the brand, which from Japan reached a broad global audience. A crucial meeting with Pharrell Williams took place, with whom Nigo collaborated for two clothing lines Billionaire Boys Club & Ice Cream. And then Notorious B.I.G, Kanye West (who redesigned the BAPESTA sneakers in 2007) and Soulja Boy who in Crank Dat said “I got me some Bathin’Ape,” contributing to the spread of the myth. And so, upon reaching the United States, stores were opened in New York in 2005 and Los Angeles in 2006.

BAPE Nigo and Pharrel Williams
BAPE Nigo and Pharrel Williams


But after the golden period that A Bathing Ape Bape experienced from the late Nineties to the early Two Thousand, came the crisis. In 2010, the parent company of the brand NOWHERE Co had accumulated debts for a sum equal to 22.5 million dollars, and founder Nigo resigns, leaving his role as CEO (he will found Human Made and become creative director at Uniqlo, and in 2021 becomes creative director of Kenzo). The following year, A Bathing Ape was purchased by IT Ltd, a Hong Kong fashion conglomerate, for 2.8 million dollars.


In recent years, the brand that wrote a piece of history in the streetwear world, has come back to the spotlight. The hoodies with the zipper, the BAPESTA sneakers, the baby Milo avatar, and the camouflage print (known as Cloud Camo) continue to be sought after and generate hype.

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