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BAPE

A Bathing Ape, also known as BAPE, is a Japanese streetwear brand founded by Nigo (Tomoaki Nagao) in 1993.

The brand specialises in clothing design, but also has an extensive sneaker repertoire. The BAPE-STA sneaker is a very popular silhouette, but the similarities of the mid model with the Nike Air Force 1 resulted in a lawsuit with the brand.

A Bathing Ape's designs are easily identified by the monkey logo and ABC CAMO motif that emerge in virtually every collection. The clothing capsules use bold colours, lots of motifs and have a cartoonish look.

The History of BAPE

1993

A Bathing Ape (BAPE) is founded by producer and DJ Nigo (Tomoaki Nagao) in Ura-Harajuku, Japan.

The name "A Bathing Ape" comes from the saying "a bathing ape in lukewarm water," which describes young people living complacent and sheltered lives whose only concern is passing exams.

The brand began by printing dozens of shirts that soon spread throughout Japan.

1998

More than five years after its founding, the Japanese streetwear brand was available in 40 stores in Japan. In 1998, Nigo changed this when he made a drastic and seemingly regressive move to stop all sales in all but one location.

Soon sales in that one store were as good, if not better, than when BAPE was still sold in 40 stores. This bold decision contributed to the brand's exclusive image and, in retrospect, worked in BAPE's favour.

Early 2000s

Bathing Ape was in its peak years. The brand focused on several campaigns, including the commercial with Pepsi in 2002.

The well-known ABC-CAMO motif appeared on many of BAPE's garments worn by musicians such as Kanye West, Jay-Z, Pharrell Williams, Notorious B.I.G. and actor Robin Williams.

The colourful "Shark" hoodie was particularly popular and appeared in several music videos.

2002

The BAPE STA sneaker was introduced. The sneaker was suspiciously reminiscent of the Nike Air Force 1, designed by Bruce Kilgore, but instead of a Swoosh, it had the 'STA' logo on the centre panel.

More than 20 years after its debut, the BAPE STA is still a beloved sneaker among sneaker lovers worldwide.

2007

Nigo teams up with rapper Kanye West and releases the BAPE STA "College Dropout. The sneaker takes inspiration from the rapper's debut album with the upper featuring the bear that appears on the album cover. With exclusive runs, the sneaker is still a sneaker grail to this day.

Names like KAWS, Ronnie Fieg, JJJound and Solebox followed Kanye West and released their own colorways of the BAPE STA sneaker in the following years.

BAPE Today

After more than 20 years since the debut of the BAPE STA, BAPE was sued by Nike for stealing the Air Force 1 design. The suit also cited other sneaker models such as the Air Force 1 Mid, Dunk Low, Air Jordan 1 Low and Air Jordan 1 High, which were also allegedly "stolen" by BAPE.

As a result of the lawsuit, BAPE agreed to cease production of the BAPE STA Mid, COURT STA, and COURT STA High models.

Did you know?

Pharrell Williams brought A Bathing Ape to the United States.

The duo is one of the most famous (and successful) streetwear and music collaborations.

Williams befriended Nigo in the 2000s and introduced the United States to BAPE's unique designs.