Bathing Apes With Nigo

If you’ve ever been in a Bape store  you’d know that there really isn’t any messing with this label. They’ll make a Louis Vuitton store appear dull, bland and lacking in creativity yet their clothing’s quality can battle it out with some of the biggest names in high fashion. One look at the brightly colored interior design and finishes of any A Bathing Ape store and its not hard to see that the founder of the brand has quite the appreciation for well thought through and extremely appealing modern spaces. His understanding of the importance of presentation is quite evident, so its little wonder that his own living space reflects this mindset too. The Cartoon Citizen takes you on an exclusive journey inside the home of Japanese street fashion icon and Teriyaki Boyz member Nigo, who has given us the gracious opportunity to sit down with him for a quick chat in the luxury of his own home.

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The lifestyle that comes with being behind BAPE, Billionaire Boys Club and Ice Cream Footwear is clearly both made up of hard work and lavish spaces.  Our interview began with a brief tour around his home, where some of the most sought after pop art pieces are found casually spread across the Tokyo suite in all their jaw dropping glory, his living room filled with one of a kind collectables, such as KAWS’ rendition of The Simpsons from the limited edition ‘The Kimpsons’ series- a parody of the classic American animated series.

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J Lubala: When did your interest in fashion initially start?

Nigo: When I was about twelve years old my parents bought me a pair of Levi 501’s and some white Adidas Superstar sneakers. At the time I wasn’t too bothered,but later i discovered a magazine called Popeye & Olive. One day I read an article about Tokyo and they spoke about the best shopping areas. From there I developed an interest in 50’s fashion and music, which at the time was very trendy in Tokyo. I liked Buddy Holly and Elvis Presley. At the same time a Japanese band called the “Checkers” broke through; I liked the way they dressed, Rockabilly style; but until 18 I used to always wear denims and white sneakers.

J Lubala: Some say you abandoned Japan in favor of  bringing the BAPE label mainly to America. Was this a marketing strategy?

Nigo: Nothing I do is that carefully planned. I felt more genuine appreciation overseas, so I was naturally drawn to focus on that-it was more rewarding. It felt like they understood what I was doing and valued it. Ironically, the reason I didn’t feel that in Japan was, I think people already assumed that they knew everything they needed to know about what I was doing. So, they could turn off their attention. It is a notable phenomenon in Japan, though, that Japanese people are very proud and supportive of anything Japanese that becomes a real success overseas, particularly in America. Even if they hated it when it was a ‘Japan only’ thing! I was almost ignored in Japan while I was becoming known in the States; when people here finally realized that the brand was really happening there, I was welcomed again. It has been an interesting experience.

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J Lubala: Has BAPE now taken the back seat to your more recent label Human Made for you?

Nigo:  I feel that BAPE got too big… Like an oil tanker, it’s difficult to steer. My role became to provide what our customers want. For Human Made it’s quite the opposite—I am only making what I want to make for myself.

Our brief chat ended with me thanking Nigo’s translator for the aid and the man himself himself for such great hospitality.

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TheCartoonCitizen – The White Room – 2013 cc – 00:06 am

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