September 10, 2003
A Bathing Ape Makes Its Own Clothes
So my friend Adam Greenfield recently called attention to an older article of his The bathing ape has no clothes. All sorts of discussion follows. And in the midst of it all I realized I didn't really know to much about Bape (as the brand is often called) and its star designer Nigo.
Well the web doesn't offer much, but it offers some. The best perhaps is this site which rocks the old geocities style flawlessly and just might be the official site. Note that its not 100% predictable what you might actually wind up seeing there... As for text and real info, one slim interview turns up, and thankfully its pretty good.
As I had suspected all along Nigo appears to work extremely hard with a strong devotion to detail and quality.
He describes himself as 'a bit of a loner' who works all the time, though 'my work doesn't feel like work to me. I feel like I have a lot of free time because I love what I do.'
To watch Nigo hovering over a conveyor belt of sneakers and shoes in one of his outlets, carefully positioning and repositioning the goods so that they gleam pristinely beneath soft-glow lamps, is to understand Nigo's admixture of lordly control and personal, hands-on engagement. Willy Wonka and the clothing factory.
One final irony: Nigo's obsessive, detail-oriented solemnity results in clothes that are most notable for being…fun. BAPE wear features surprises to delight a childlike curiosity—untuck a pocket in a pair of jeans and voila!, there's the tiny ape-head on the inner lining. Hold a short-sleeve button-down shirt sideways and stare into the camouflage for a few minutes: “BAPE” is spelled out, embedded in the pattern like a Rorschach inkblot.
I could just smell this sort of thing beneath the Bapa hype. There are a million and a half companies wanting to be where Bape is now, or even where it was 2 years ago. But only one really made it. Dismissing Nigo as a "stylist" as Adam did seemed a bit too off the cuff. Success doesn't just emerge from nowhere...Posted by Abe at September 10, 2003 10:58 PM