#BreakingNews | The most iconic and influential gorilla in the streetwear world arrives in the Canary Islands, exclusively at The Mint Company.
The road to success
When we talk about the hypebeast movement around the popularisation of hip-hop, the BAPE brand -aka A Bathing Ape- would find itself in chapter 1. Its roots go back to the Ura-Harajuru scene of the early 90s, where it developed alongside the rest of Japan's great fashion and streetstyle icons. What started with a group of friends sharing interests under the same scene, ended up becoming a movement in its own right.
Nigo, founder of A Bathing Ape, grew up in Maebashi, the capital of Gunma Prefecture, a man with a strong passion for pop culture franchises such as Star Wars as a child and a regular consumer of the columns of the Japanese magazine Takarajima during his teenage years. The latter launched a weekly column championing the subcultural mix of hip-hop, punk aesthetics and skateboarding, which led to him being crowned a legitimate influencer of these cultural avant-gardes.
Years later, while working as an editor and stylist at Popeye magazine, Nigo decided to open his first shop with Jun Takahashi of Undercover, which he called Nowhere. Soon after, he decided to collaborate with Sk8thing to launch his first fashion line, which he called A Bathing Ape, or simply BAPE.
A Bathing Ape and Nowhere helped define the Urahara style of the 90s, which means underground in Japanese and also refers to the counter-cultural art movement that emerged from the fusion of American influences and styles. Nigo's overseas connections served as a foundation for the brand, as he was able to bring what he saw abroad back to Tokyo and then test and create his own cultural trends.
The exclusivity of his clothing was a key part of the hype that built up around the brand. He made 50 T-shirts a week, half of which he gave to creatives and influencers in Japan and half of which he sold. He understood that exclusivity was directly related to desirability. And he was right.
By 1998, BAPE was sold in more than 40 stores across Japan - and suddenly Nigo decided to stop selling and centralise them all in a single point of sale: his flagship store in Tokyo. Sales were the same - or better - in this single store. The strategy was brutal, and the brand was the number one streetwear brand on the Asian continent.
The 2000s came with important collaborations - on the one hand - with renowned artists in the genre such as Pharell Williams, Jay-Z or Kanye West - on the other hand - with multinationals such as Nike, Adidas or Puma, which served as a bridge to further internationalise the brand. Thus, becoming one of the big names in urban and street fashion, not only in Japan, but now also on a global level.
The great icons of the brand
The garments that define the heritage of the brand can be divided into three categories: the BAPESTA trainers, the BAPE Camo camouflage garments and the BAPE Shark hoodies. These, representing A Bathing Ape, have been able to transcend all seasons and have been continuously maintained since their respective launch dates.
In 2002, one of BAPE's most iconic features was born, BAPESTA trainers, which ushered in a new era of sneakers with patent leather uppers and striking colour combinations. Some even came in blister packs - like the action figures Nigo played with in his youth - as an ode to his childhood.
Two years later came the BAPE Shark sweatshirts, extravagantly designed and full of unique details that reinforced the brand's concept of exclusivity. The limited production run of each model gave the consumer the feeling that they were buying a piece of clothing that was almost one of a kind.
The zip on the hood, the shark design inspired by fighter plane illustrations, the A symbol (referring to "A Bathing Ape") and the WGM patches (symbolising "World Gone Mad") made this garment one of the brand's most distinctive designs.
The brand's most distinctive print, the Cloud Camo or BAPE Camo, takes us back to the origins of Japanese cartoons. A graphic icon that has become one of the most representative motifs in streetwear today. While camouflage has always been associated with going unnoticed, the brand has managed to give it a completely opposite meaning, making it something difficult to ignore.
Nigo was inspired by one of its idols, the American artist Andy Warhol, who was able to turn any everyday object into art. With this print, Nigo has managed to reinvent an element of everyday culture, transforming it into a work of art by adapting it to different surfaces - such as Pepsi cans - or to colours with which it would never have been associated, such as blue, pink or red.
Although the brand is no longer as exclusive as it was in the 1990s, it is highly unlikely to be found in a physical shop in Europe. In Spain, there are only a few points of sale and in the Canary Islands, the only place you can find it is at The Mint Company. So, what are you waiting for?