It was more than a decade ago when Los Angeles-based designer Chris Stamp first stepped foot into Bape’s Tokyo store—a moment he describes as inspirational, and one that had a huge impact on his approach to retail for his menswear imprint Stampd.
“I first went to Japan about 12 years ago, and that was when the Bape craze was really in the heyday,” Chris told Complex. “I went to one of their stores in Tokyo—I had already heard about the brand maybe a few years before that—right when I was getting into fashion and having an appreciation for footwear. And when I was able to go into the store and experience it first-hand, not only how they did retail, but also how they approached product and dropping product, I was super inspired.”
Fast-forward to 2018 and Chris is set to launch Stampd’s collaborative capsule with the streetwear giant, offering customers a range of clothing, footwear, and accessories that fuse both brand’s signature aesthetics.
Chris spoke to Complex about the joint effort, dishing on how it came to be and what it meant to him as a longtime Bape fan. Check out our Q&A with the Stampd founder, along with the official lookbook for the collection, below. The pieces will be available today (Feb. 3) at Bape and Stampd flagship locations, as well as bape.com and stampd.com at 2 p.m. ET.
How did this Stampd collaboration with Bape come about?
I actually have a couple of guys that work on the Stampd team who are Japanese. Some of the guys on the Bape team in Japan had started chatting with the guys on our team a few years ago, and we just kind of played with the idea of potentially doing something together. Just from that relationship in Japan, it started. And we’ve been working on it for quite a while, the past couple of years, actually.
Did you ever get the change to meet Nigo while he was still with the brand? Or after?
I have not. But ever since I got fashion and got into footwear, he has always been one of my main inspirations.
What about Nigo and Bape inspired you?
I like the way he cultivates products. I like how, from the beginning, Nigo had a very specific eye on how he saw the products being in the market, and the detail that he would take in each piece, from the labeling to the branding to making sure that everything was very cohesive. Their strategy on how they drop product, and relating back to their store experience. Their store experience, for me, I’ve never seen before.
At the time of my first visit, it was the most amazing store, from a retail perspective, I had ever been in. It was the first time where I feel like the level of streetwear had evolved into something outside of what it [typically] looked at as. There were hints of luxury tied into the entire culture.
I think the biggest thing is that streetwear has definitely evolved in the last 10 years, and there has been a lot of influence from luxury into what streetwear culture has evolved into. I think Bape was one of the first incubators of that idea. I like to think that’s what we are achieving to do [with Stampd]. But it doesn’t need to be on such an unapproachable luxury level. We want it to be open, and accepted by younger kids, the younger generation, while having an appreciation for nice things, simultaneously.
Stampd is known for its monochromatic, clean designs. Bape is known for its bold patterns and bright colors. How did you approach mixing each brand’s DNA in this capsule?
We just started with a very monochromatic pallette. And I just kind of tried to go into some of the pieces that I worked on more of a tone-down version of what I normally see in their collections. For instance, the T-shirts, we did the signature Bape head, but really small, like a micro embroidery on the shirt, kept it very simple and clean. For the hoodie, we added removable straps to that, which is one of the signature [details] of some of our pieces, but we kept the hoodie all black and did a monochromatic camo print. We then added the detail “Los Angeles Gone Mad” on the hood, which is a touch back to Bape’s "World Gone Mad."
I like to just think that we tried to refine some of the pieces and just make them timeless and something I would want to wear 10 years from now.
Is that what you’re trying to communicate with the collection?
Yes, creating timeless pieces. Using our DNA and our aesthetic and incorporating it with some of their heritage pieces, like the shark hoodie or the Roadsta. You don’t really see the Roadsta too much, and I think that’s why we wanted to use that silhouette. And then incorporating my DNA from West Coast culture, beach culture, and that’s why I did the sand print on the Roadsta upper. The print was created off of an iPhone photo I took. Just the sand at Venice beach. I wanted to do something special, a special moment for Los Angeles.
Can you tell me about the creative process of the collaboration? Did your team present ideas to Bape? Did they give you ideas to work off of?
They gave us silhouettes that we potentially could be working off of. And from there, our team created a plan and a direction for the overall collection, and submitted it back to them. We went through trial-and-error, really trying to perfect each one of the pieces. There was a lot of back-and-forth, from the aesthetics to the quality to essentially all details on every single piece. It was a quite intense back-and-forth. We want to make sure everything was going to be perfect.
Did you learn anything during the creation of the capsule?
The attention to detail that the Bape Japanese team has—it’s kind of an aspiration level of really how much they sink into every element and every single detail of every single piece they put out. There were countless, countless emails and phone calls to make sure every single thing was super perfect. And that’s definitely a level to which we want to achieve, putting product out and making sure that everything is absolutely perfect once it hits market.
Stampd has a lot of collaborations under its belt, from Vans, Kith, Gap, IKEA. What are some of the factors you consider when deciding whether or not to team up with a brand?
I think there needs to be a joint appreciation on both sides. I think both teams need to feel there’s something organic about the relationship as well as an appreciation. We appreciate Bape, and I think they have a level of appreciation for our brand, things they would like to attach themselves to. I think the biggest thing for me is just the level organicness and just authenticity coming out of it. You don’t want to be collaborating with someone just to do it. There really has to be a synergy there and a reason.
What does this collaboration mean to you on a personal level?
It’s a milestone. It’s one of those things I’m proud of. I think back from the early-on stages of me creating the brand, and being able to finally reach a level where we would get appreciation from a brand like Bape, I think that’s a big accomplishment.