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BAPE: A Bathing Ape in the Streetwear Jungle

BAPE: A Bathing Ape in the Streetwear Jungle

Brush up on your history of the legendary Japanese streetwear brand Bape and how it became the brand that it is today.


Born out of the vibrant Japanese streetwear scene in the early '90s, A Bathing Ape (BAPE) has evolved into a global icon in the world of fashion. With its signature camouflage patterns and ape logo, BAPE has become synonymous with high-quality streetwear and exclusive collaborations. In this blog post, we'll dive into the history of BAPE and its significance in the ever-evolving streetwear landscape.


The Origins of BAPE

BAPE was founded in 1993 by the visionary designer and entrepreneur Nigo (Tomoaki Nagao) in the bustling district of Ura-Harajuku in Tokyo. Inspired by the urban culture of New York City and its hip-hop scene, Nigo aimed to create a unique blend of Japanese and American streetwear styles. The brand's name, A Bathing Ape, is derived from the Japanese idiom "a bathing ape in lukewarm water," implying a sense of comfort and complacency, which Nigo sought to challenge with his innovative designs. Another inspiration for the logo and name came from Nigo's love of science fiction and the movie Planet of the Apes.


The Rise of the Ape

BAPE quickly gained popularity in Japan for its distinctive and bold patterns, especially the brand's iconic camouflage, which became a staple of the BAPE aesthetic. The ape logo, representing the brand's namesake, also contributed to its unique identity. As BAPE expanded, Nigo began collaborating with renowned artists and musicians, further elevating the brand's status in the streetwear world.

In 2005, BAPE entered the US market, opening a flagship store in New York City. The brand's exclusivity and limited releases quickly caught the attention of influential figures in the hip-hop and fashion communities. Celebrities like Pharrell Williams, Kanye West, and Lil Wayne were spotted wearing BAPE, catapulting the brand to mainstream success and solidifying its place as a global streetwear powerhouse.


Collaborations and Cultural Impact

Throughout its history, BAPE has engaged in numerous high-profile collaborations with some of the world's leading brands, artists, musicians, and some that may come as a surprise. These collaborations have ranged from footwear giants like Adidas to TV shows and movies like Naruto and Pokemon and collaborations with Marvel and DC, to high-end brands like Swarovski. Their first collaboration was actually with Pepsi in 2001. These partnerships have not only contributed to BAPE's ever-growing influence but have also played a crucial role in bridging the gap between streetwear and high fashion.

BAPE has also had a significant impact on the evolution of streetwear as a cultural phenomenon. The brand's limited releases and "drop" culture, where products are released in small quantities and sell out quickly, have become a defining characteristic of the streetwear industry. BAPE's influence can be seen in many contemporary streetwear brands that have adopted similar strategies to create hype and demand for their products.


The Legacy Continues

In 2011, Nigo stepped down as the creative director of BAPE and sold the brand to Hong Kong-based fashion conglomerate I.T. Group. Although the brand's ownership changed hands, BAPE continued to thrive under the guidance of its new creative team. Today, BAPE remains a force to be reckoned with in the streetwear industry, maintaining its status as an iconic and innovative brand.



Since its inception in the early '90s, BAPE has been a pioneer in the world of streetwear, shaping the industry with its unique designs, collaborations, and marketing strategies. The brand's lasting influence can be seen in the countless streetwear labels that have been inspired by BAPE's aesthetic and approach. As streetwear continues to evolve and merge with high fashion, BAPE's legacy as a trailblazer in the industry remains undeniable.


How Sole Food Sneakers Fits In

In order to help continue BAPE's legacy as one of the important pioneers of streetwear fashion and attitude, we are very meticulous and strict with our vendors. Sole Food Sneakers takes the extra time to source all of our BAPE products from legitimate vendors, so have no doubt, you'll always purchase authentic products from us.


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