BAPE (or A Bathing Ape) is a Japanese urban style clothing brand that emerged in 1993 in Ura-Harajuku. Its head office is located in Tokyo. The brand’s founder is Tomoaki Nagao (stage name Nigo), DJ, designer, entrepreneur. The fashion company owns 19 retail outlets, including overseas – in major cities such as Los Angeles, Miami, Paris, London, New York, Seoul, Shanghai, Beijing, etc. The Kyoto store also contains a gallery and serves as a venue for shows, meetings, and other events. In 2011, the company moved to the fashion conglomerate IT Group. After the sale, the founder worked as a creative director for two years and left it in 2013.
Meaning and History
Nigo decided to open his store, inspired by the ideas of Hiroshi Fujiwara, a fashion guru. He was also more influenced by his parents, who worked hard and left him alone with toys, from which he drew fashionable style. After graduating from college, Tomoaki Nagao joined Popeye magazine, where he served as an editor. He then borrowed 4 million yen from a businessman he knew and, together with Jun Takahashi, opened a Nowhere store. Then the aspiring entrepreneur decided to found his brand.
The name for the store Nigo chose a very trendy one, which is clear to everyone in Japan. It was related to the image from the 1968 film Planet of the Apes. After thinking it over, the founder decided to beat him and associate him with Japanese culture. The fact is that BAPE stands for A Bathing Ape in Lukewarm Water because it is composed of the letters of the first two words. And the Japanese usually take baths every day in very warm water (above +40 degrees), and some enjoy bathing until it cools down. Thus, the phrase ironically means a rich man who loves to pamper himself. This was the originally intended contingent of buyers.
The owner of the trademark was actively engaged in its promotion. To this end, Nigo gave half of the products out of each sewn batch to friends every week so that they could wear his clothes and popularize them. Performer Keigo Oyamada became one of the “objects of walking advertising.” Then the store owner got carried away with DJ work and recording an album, which also raised the brand’s prestige. In February 2011, he moved to the Hong Kong-based IT Group: it bought back more than 90 percent of the shares.
But the new owner did not change the logo, considering it reasonable to use the already well-promoted image since it was printed on all branded products. Moreover, he continued the line of prints based on famous films. One of his most recent collaborations is with Disney (based on the cartoon Ralph Breaks the Internet).
Font and Colors of the Emblem
For camouflage, the BAPE logo is popularly called Cloud Camo. It depicts a monkey. She is a collective image of the characters from the film about the planet of the apes, a hint of humanity and irony over the Japanese phraseological unit about lovers of carefree soak in warm water. There are no specific facial features – there are only common spots through which the animal’s head is drawn.
The central part is light – it is painted in a flesh-yellow tint. Sunken places for the eyes, nose, mouth, forehead, and cheek are schematically visible. Everything else is covered with thick dark brown hair. The monkey has no torso – only the upper part of the bust and the head with the face. It should be noted that the emblem became very popular because it was used as a print on T-shirts from the very beginning.
The brand name has been spelled differently, but the typeface used most often resembles the College font. In contrast, the color gamut is stable: it always consisted of two shades of brown – flesh and earthy.