Every Thursday, we dig up a favorite piece from the archives and bring it back to life. Today, we're highlighting an article about Nigo and A Bathing Ape that appeared in Upstart Business Journal in 2007. If you haven't read it, consider this a blessing.
By 2007, both Nigo and his streetwear brand A Bathing Ape hardly needed any introduction. Products were selling out faster than the team could restock its stores. Kids were lining up (sometimes for days) outside of shops. Co-signs from big name celebrities like Kanye West, Pharrell, and Jay Z came left and right—despite Nigo's decision to stay away from advertising. Bape was definitely on its way to becoming a global powerhouse.
Yet, in this article in Upstart Business Journal, the Japanese designer talked about not wanting to grow the brand too quickly, and not being accepted by Tokyo's fashion community.
Nigo says the fashion community in Tokyo turned its back on him. (Later in the article, it's explained that some of those who came from the Urahara movement felt Nigo betrayed the values of craftsmanship, exclusivity, and countercultural style.)
"When I die and they make an auction catalog of all my possessions, then they will understand. They will see how important I am."
Nigo says steady growth of the brand is better than quick success.
"Growing fast is always tempting. I could double our sales immediately, but then the brand wouldn't be fresh anymore."
Nigo explains why he started A Bathing Ape, and why creating a streetwear brand during Tokyo's late-'80s alternative scene was the right move.
"Japanese designers were doing high fashion, imitating international styles. The shops weren't selling anything new or cool. We thought streetwear—the stuff in skate shops or maybe what Stussy was doing—seemed more exciting."
Nigo says he shut down Bape distribution in Japan outside of Tokyo in 1999 after he saw his designs beside Tommy Hilfiger in stores because he was worried about overexposure.
"My accountant was furious. Revenue went off a cliff, but I knew that with the way the brand had been getting overexposed, it was either fail in a few years by continuing the way we were going or change direction and risk failing right then."
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