Posted by Shirley Brady on February 2, 2011 10:00 AM
A Bathing Ape, the Japanese cult brand that, in its heyday, was beloved by hip-hop artists, DJs, skateboarders and others seeking street cred through streetwear, has just been sold.
Created by Tomoaki Nagao, a Tokyo-based designer and musician better known as Nigo, the clothing and kicks line arrived in America when it opened a store in New York in 2005. Its 2008 store launch in Los Angeles brought out celeb fans of the Harajuku-born brand including superfan Pharrell Williams, Jermaine Dupri, Pete Wentz, Joel Madden, Mike Tyson, Jonah Hill, Serena Williams. Pepsi has also collaborated with BAPE on a series of limited edition bottles.
It has cooled off considerably since then — its LA store closed last year, and its New York store no longer attracts the lineups it once did. No matter: it was just snapped up by Hong Kong's I.T. apparel group, which wants to further the brand's expansion in China. A Bathing Ape last month opened its first store in Beijing, and already boasts retail outlets in Shanghai, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Taiwan.
Nigo will stay on with the brand for two years, and has been working on a side project — the Ice Cream / Billionaire Boys Club luxury streetwear lines — with Pharrell Williams since 2005.