NIGO on A Bathing Ape and What the Future Holds
The legendary NIGO recently sat down with WWD to share his thoughts on A Bathing Ape post-NIGO as well as what the future holds for him. Two years since Hong Kong-based fashion conglomerate I.T. bought A Bathing Ape and with the brand celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, NIGO’s interview comes at an interesting time for both him and the brand. A Bathing Ape is now back in the black after a few years in the red and NIGO is no longer involved with BAPE, instead focusing on his own company NIGOLD and several collaborative ventures. Check out a brief excerpt of the piece, the entirety of which can be found at WWD (subscription required).
Why did you choose to leave A Bathing Ape, the very brand you started? When did you make the decision? Nigo:
It was about six months ago that I started to think about what I wanted to do next. I guess it’s just me being selfish. It has been 20 years since I founded the brand, and in another 20 years from now I will be 60. I started fumbling around for some new possibilities. What I really want to make clear is that I didn’t fall out with [I.T chief executive officer] Sham Kar Wai. Sham and I get on as more than business associates and we came to a mutual decision. It was simply that I came to the realization that Bape was no longer just my creation and I didn’t renew the contract that I signed two years ago when I sold the company.
Do you think that without you Bape is going to change even more significantly from now on?
Nigo: There is a hangover caused by my own time managing Bape. That without me the brand wouldn’t exist is something the people who follow in my footsteps will have to overcome. But I think that I.T is confident that it is going to continue to sell without me. Especially in Asia, Bape is Bape. There are people who are fanatical about the logo alone. Maybe it will have an effect in places in the West like New York where I have an identity as Nigo. As for Japan, I wonder? I have a feeling they will just have to push on. If something goes wrong, maybe they will call me back!
So, where will you go from here? Aside from Nowhere, you have your own company, Nigold, which produces your new clothing brand Human Made. Will this be the second incarnation of Bape?
Nigo: Human Made is a brand that makes the clothes I want to be wearing right now, but I have no intention at all of growing it to the level of Bape. Two years ago, I opened a shop for Human Made in [the Tokyo residential neighborhood] Sendagaya that only opened on the weekends called Cold Coffee. I am in the process of renewing the interior of that and I am going to put on sale some of my collection of vintage items. I want to go back to doing business over the counter the old school way. I rent two or three locations for my collection and gradually have just wanted to let go of it all. I want to make a shop disguised as an art gallery with all of things I have collected on display for sale. I have no intention of going back into high-risk business.