A Bathing Ape, also known as BAPE, went from a local Japanese streetwear brand to collaborating with the likes of Adidas, Supreme New York, and many other pop culture brands throughout the years. If you are a fan of fashion and all things streetwear, the chokehold that A Bathing Ape has had on the culture is historical. Many of your favorite artists from around the globe have been seen rocking BAPE merch one time or another. 

In April, A Bathing Ape celebrates their anniversary of their first official brick and mortar store opening in Ura-Harajuku, Japan. Starting from 'NOWHERE,' a partnership shop between Nigo, whose real name is Tomoaki Nagao, and Jun Takahashi, who is known as the founder of the popular Japanese streetwear brand UNDERCOVER. Nigo used the Harajuku shop to push his creativity with BAPE; turning it into his flagship location in Japan. 


Exploring the world of Japanese streetwear and the Urahara movement

Source: Exploring the world of Japanese streetwear and the Urahara movement.


The early years of BAPE consisted of Nigo crafting 50 shirts a week - half of which were sold to the public, and half of which were given to Tokyo creatives and influencers to spark hype and push the brand even further forward. This sparked significant demand in BAPE's apparel throughout Tokyo, and soon after the globe. Soon after, BAPE's signature camouflage pattern can be found on artists like The Notorious B.I.G, and in partnerships like Pepsi in 2001; that in which, spawned a bit of controversy within the fanbase of BAPE. 


A BATHING APE (Bape)× PEPSI Collaboration 500ml Empty Aluminum Can Set of 3  | eBay


The hip-hop music scene began to grow fond of BAPE. Pharrell tapped into Nigo to commision a piece of jewelry for his collection in the mid-2000's. Following that, a smaller producer from Chicago named Kanye West hit up Nigo in 2007 for promotional pairs of the 'BAPESTA' for his debut studio album, The College Dropout. The success of Kanye West's album catapulted BAPE towards a significant international audience.


The Kanye West Sneaker Collaboration That's Cooler Than Yeezys | GQ

Source: The Kanye West Sneaker Collaboration That’s Cooler Than Yeezys


With Kanye West and Pharrell rocking BAPE heavy in the 2000s, two of the biggest stars in hip-hop at the time, the hype that BAPE amassed over the started to fade. From being a smaller, unique, brand that select people had the chance to purchase, the brand became a large entity within the clothing space and it had quickly lost its appeal to their original audience. 'NOWHERE Co' began to operate within the red in 2009 and 2010, and news came out of a debt worth close to around $16.5 million. This forced Nigo to step down as CEO of the company. 


Exploring Hip-Hop's Love Affair With Bape | Pitchfork

Source: Exploring Hip-Hop’s Love Affair With Bape


BAPE was then purchased for $2.8 million by I.T Ltd, a Hong Kong based fashion conglomerate who began to target an East Asian audience, namely Taiwan and China. 'Baby Milo' was created, a cute derivative of the BAPE mascot, and the brand had started picking up legs yet again. Major collaborations with Coca-Cola, and others pushed BAPE into transforming into a streetwear staple. 

BAPE, a brand who saw their own highs and lows, elevated their brand with the help of pop culture music icons like Kanye West, Keith Ape, Soulja Boy, and Kid Cudi, and propelled their image and apparel towards a significant international audience. 


Shop our selection of A BATHING APE here.

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