The Grass Is Always Greener PartIV
aka Ape Shall Never Kill Ape
Definitely not going to be the only post about Bape for sure, but i gotta start somewhere.
Its been about 12 years on since the birth of the label, and its still re-inventing itself and staying on the scene. Nigo started "a Bathing Ape" label just so he and his pals could have tees and clothing designed and meade just they way they wanted. And so it went from making a few pieces to give away to friends and fam at private DJ parties, to the discovery of how exclusitivity can turn the underground style-scene around. With his mentor Hiroshi Fujiwara, he created the label "Very Ape" in UK with the Gimme5 crew. Using imagery from the cult film "Planet of the Apes", Nigo sought to make people think of what his clothes are really trying to say. Was it just a movie fan tee? Nigo's message has always been a Japanese phrase, translated loosely as "a bathing ape in lukewarm water". It a snipe at the youths of today as being "too comfortable" with their lives, bathing in lukewarm water and not being able to withstand the harshness of "cold water", a reference to society in general. Its a comment on how they lack imagination and need guidance on everything they do.
This reference is definitely not lost on the wearer. Its always been thought of as an "in-joke" to own and wear a Bape tee, since we are in fact being dictated by someone(ie Nigo) of what to wear, what is cool. We are in fact the "bathing ape" that Nigo is calling out. Back in the days, to wear the tee is to get his joke. Hence the essence of self parody adds to the enigma of the label. The 2nd ingredient of what defines and makes the label so successful is exclusitivity. Back in Japan from his experience with the Hit and Run store (now Hideout)in London, Nigo started the Nowhere shop in the backstreets of Harajuku with sk8thing and Jun Takahashi(Undercover). The non-descript shop (now known as Bapexclusive)was minimalistic to say the least, away from main human traffic and hard as hell to find...which suited Nigo just fine. Once word of his ultra-rare clothing spread like wildfire amongst the "in" crowd, queues started to form infront of the store way before opening hours(does this sound familiar yet?). People started to ask about where and how to find the shop and get hold of a tee, or anything from Bape. Of course the store built up the hype by limiting the sale of tees to 1 per customer, in your own size, and only if the staff felt that they wanted to sell it to you. These days, thankfully, the limitations are no longer in place. you can purchase multiple items....thats if the hordes of people in the queue havent bought it up yet (thank you hypebeasts).
Thats enough prose for the moment, i'll write more when i get the time...but you get the idea of how the "hype" in today's streetwear scene comes about. Its not through the work of one man per se, but he sure as hell had a big part in it. Right, now back to topic, which is about my collection of tees....
The early Ape tees were printed using off-the-shelf tees, mainly Champion and Oneita brands, and putting the Ape label over the original tee label.
Bathing ape "in lukewarm water" design printed on Oneita tee, tag reads the famous line "Ape shall never kill ape".
Check out the graphic, one of very few vintage tees that has original meaning of the brand, "bathing ape in lukewarm water".
Very Ape tee made in England, tag reads "I'm very ape and very nice"
Bathing ape "Generals" design printed on Champion tee.
Theres plenty of other tags since Nigo has created so many diffusion lines, which means lots of different tags, labels and names. I'll post them in future updates where possible. Until next time, ciao
PS: Baby "Milo" cup is straight off crazy eh? "Stop your cheap imitations!"