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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 by.
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.
write by Elain