STYLE, SWAGGER &
Brand Bape, also known
as A Bathing Ape, is a Japanese brand that targets the Urban and
hip-hop fashion scene. As well as selling clothing, the company also
owns hair salons and music labels which all help to compliment the
brand. The company was founded in 1993 and has rapidly gained
popularity throughout Asia and the western world. The company now
has boutique stores in New York, Taiwan and London as well as having
members-only shops and a record label among its many assets
throughout the world.
The man who started the company is called Tomoaki Nagao - he is
known under the alias Nigo - says that his main reasons for starting
the company was the inspiration that he took from his parents. As
well as being influenced by his parents, one of whom was a nurse and
another a marketer,
Hiroshi Fujiwara was also a large influence
despite being a designer in a far earlier period in Japanese fashion
and culture and there being a lack of obvious similarities between
their works. The nickname, Nigo, means number 2 in Japanese and the
name of his stores is directly pulled from the film Planet of The
Apes. The company, unlike major fashion brands of today, was not
started on a major budget. They gave t-shirts away to inspirational
music figures and used that as a means of gaining viral exposure.
This worked very well, and quickly pushed demand for the clothing
well above supply. This was a deliberate move by Nigo, who felt he
would later reap the rewards for making his clothing hard to come
The company sells a wide variety of clothing including jackets,
sweatshirts, jeans and also their own brand of shoe - Bape Sta -
which has been compared to Nike trainers in appearance. The urban
wear is seen as fashionable and a cultural statement by teenagers
and young adults alike.
The company's individualism and unique approach can be best depicted
by their company website. Rather than having any information, the
stylish one page site invites only one action on their website - to
download an application. The application then has music and slick
graphics, which helps to re-enforce the unique style that Nigo has
managed to attach to the brand.
Nigo started the company with one idea that he wanted to be central
to everything - the customer should feel grateful for being allowed
to buy his product, rather than the other way round.
One of the ways this idea was driven home was through the limited
production of all items that are sold. Not only does this make
higher costs more justifiable, it also means that celebrity figures
are happy to wear the clothes because they know the chances are low
that anyone else will be seen wearing the same thing. Bape is a
unique brand that has the respect of fashion gurus and marketing
experts alike. For years into the future it is safe to say that Bape
will continue to gain mindshare and grow as a company.
January 08 Special: