Sk8thing, Verdy, James Bond & More Look Back on BAPE’s 25-Year Reign in Streetwear

Each touch upon some of their most cherished memories about the brand.

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Considered as one of the original streetwear brands, BAPE’s dominance around the world has been ongoing since its inception back in 1993. Due in large part to its recognizable APE Head insignia and signature camouflage patterns designed by Sk8thing and MANKEY, respectively, the label quickly became the ultimate badge of street cred amongst the fashion denizens in the back ally ways of Harajuku to eventually making its way to the sidewalks of New York City.

By carefully nurturing itself, BAPE has turned into a cultural phenomenon by striking a fine balance between exclusivity and mass appeal. With its infectious designs appearing on everything from apparel to luxury items, everyone from celebrities and musicians to athletes and influencers can be seen rocking the label. Along with managing to infuse its unique codes into every major city around the world, it’s no wonder die-hard fans are willing to line the blocks to get their hands on a piece of BAPE and buy into the lifestyle that has been put up for sale.

As BAPE and Baby Milo celebrate their Silver Jubilee, a special, multi-faceted “BAPE XXV” exhibition was held in Tokyo, Japan over the weekend. Showcasing a slew of never-before-seen works of arts and collaborations, 10 Baby Milo figures designed by 10 different artists including Sk8thing, MANKEY, Stash, James Bond, Adam Lister, Michael Lau, Eric Haze, Shepard Fairey, Shinsuke Takizawa, and Tetsu Nishiyama were place in the center of it all.

Below, most of the aforementioned artists including Girls Don’t Cry’s Verdy touch upon some of their most cherished memories about BAPE including their favorite items and collaborations.

Take a look at our exclusive interviews below and make sure to also check out the “Best Collaborations From BAPE’s 25th Anniversary Exhibition.”

Sk8thing

1. Inspiration behind your Baby Milo?
We are not just celebrating BAPE we are celebrating Baby Milo. So I just wanted to celebrate Baby Milo being 25 as well.

2. Favorite memory involving BAPE?
This celebration we have here right now is amazing. This is a very important year. So my favorite memory is right now.

3. Favorite item?
Pastel Camo designed by MANKEY. He created the camo designs 25 years ago.

4. Favorite collaboration?
There are so many collaborations! My favorite is Futura and Stash; old school New York connection. That’s the most important thing about making an item, bridging people from different countries and cultures.

5. What has helped BAPE’s success over the past 25 years?
First of all NIGO: he’s a creative individual and a creative mind. His direction is like so strong, that’s the first reason. And after NIGO it’s the I.T. Company, which helped to maintain the business worldwide. They’ve increased our status. So two reasons, NIGO and Billy (CEO of BAPE), who have helped BAPE’s success till this day.

Verdy

1. Favorite memory involving BAPE?
Eight years ago, Ollie Magazine held a BAPE T-shirt design competition. Though I didn’t win first prize, I ended up winning one of the prizes presented by NIGO, himself. I was very young and this was the first time I sent out my design work to a magazine.

2. First item?
A key holder because BAPE was very expensive for me when I was young.

3. Favorite item?
I’m not a collector type, but the KAWS x BAPE BAPESTAs. I still have them in mint condition and I have never worn them.

4. Favorite collaboration?
BOUNTY HUNTER, specifically the T-shirt.

5. What has helped BAPE’s success over the past 25 years?
They are always trying to be fresh and trying to create new things, so that’s really important and BAPE does it well.

James Bond

1. Inspiration behind your Baby Milo?
We did a Jujutsu Gi for him cause, myself and the guys, we all studied Jujutsu.

2. Favorite memory involving BAPE?
I think it was the first time we met NIGO. He picked us up in his car and he had the crazy Jacob the Jeweler front on the car. It was kind of insane. Just the whole opulence of who he was.

3. First item?
It was a puffer coat that I got at The Hideout in London. It was full camo. It was around 2001 and I didn’t even know anything about the brand and it was expensive as sh*t. I remember I sold a Supreme sweatshirt off my back at a Levi’s party and the next day I was cold, so I went and bought that jacket with all the money I sold it for.

4. Favorite item?
I have a pair of shell toe Superstars that they did with adidas. I just liked the colorway; it’s got the off white with the light blue.

5. Favorite collaboration?
Selfishly any of UNDEFEATEDs (laughs).

6. What has helped BAPE’s success over the past 25 years?
Probably like Supreme, it’s consistent. You always know what you are gonna get and it’s always really good quality. It’s playful it’s fun; you could either be real serious with it or kind of do it playfully.

MANKEY

1. Inspiration behind your Baby Milo?
Camos are usually depicted using a solid color, so I wanted to showcase it through mirrors and reflections. I wanted something new, so I went with this unique take.

2. Favorite memory involving BAPE?
The fact that I got to meet Sk8thing and develop a close friendship with him. Also meeting NIGO who inspired me to create the Baby Milo character. I’m still very close to both of them.

3. Favorite item?
Basic camo hoodies.

4. Favorite collaboration?
KAWS.

5. What has helped BAPE’s success over the past 25 years?
We are able to fulfill the basic needs of our costumers, but what we do differently is we incorporate Japanese graphics into our clothing. These graphics have been able to translate worldwide and have been accepted by everyone outside of Japan.

Stash

Sk8thing James Bond Stash BAPE’s 25th Anniversary a bathing ape nigo streetwear tokyo japan ape shall never kill ape apes together strong interviews baby milo exhibitions

Heison Ho/HYPEBEAST

1. Inspiration behind your Baby Milo?
When I was presented with the idea I thought of a bronze sculpture that lives outside and in nature will oxidize. So I tried to make mine look like a bronze sculpture.

2. Favorite memory involving BAPE?
There are too many; every memory involving BAPE is an amazing memory for me. I heard abut the brand in New York, but it’s different when you’re here in Tokyo and experiencing it as it’s happening. I think my first experience was maybe in ’96 and it was incredible. Forever changed my life. It was really just a domestic Japanese label; it hadn’t gone global. The people that made up the brand really were special and are still in my life. So it’s amazing how many years later the friendships developed out of that brand for me.

3. First item?
It’s a Ripstop nylon bucket hat with a little BAPE embroidery stitched on. It was given to me by Futura who had just come back from Tokyo where he met the original BAPE family. And then subsequently I was in Tokyo maybe five months later on my first trip and I had met everybody and then I probably still have a lot of the first gear I was given.

4. Favorite item?
That’s a trick question, because what they create just really never ceases to amaze us. There are just too many items to list I don’t have time today. I could check boxes like ‘D, all the above’ because it’s just too many.

5. Favorite collaboration?
The brand itself is so strong, I thought they lent too much of what they did to whatever brand they collaborated with cause it was all about BAPE to me. It was great to see all the crossovers. I mean I got a SINN army watch. Just the level of intensity of who they crossed over with as well, and not just T-shirts or soft goods, but also luxury items. There are so many amazing pieces that they have been able to work with and continue the relevance of what the brand is. It wasn’t out of order to go from a luxury item to a fishing pole.

6. What has helped BAPE’s success over the past 25 years?
I mean I just think it’s originality. It’s originality and it’s very fine attention to detail and continuing with the general (NIGO), dude really knew what was going on and he really just laid such thick foundation. He’s the architect to me, he’s just f*cking A.

Adam Lister

Sk8thing James Bond Stash BAPE’s 25th Anniversary a bathing ape nigo streetwear tokyo japan ape shall never kill ape apes together strong interviews baby milo exhibitions

Heison Ho/HYPEBEAST

1. Inspiration behind your Baby Milo?
I wanted to use a palette of peaceful colors, arranged in bars that wrap circular around the statue. Milo is for the kids, so I used a simple geometric design with blocks of color that relate to space, mathematics, and the natural world.

2. Favorite memory involving BAPE?
When Travis Scott pulled up and performed live at the BAPE NY store in 2016.

3. First item?
When I was younger I saved up my money to get a BAPE Shark hoodie.

4. Favorite item?
BAPE x Reebok sneakers.

5. Favorite collaboration?
BAPE x KAWS.

6. What has helped BAPE’s success over the past 25 years?
The brand has held its place at the top for so long due to a number of factors… exclusive limited editions, relevant collaborations, and constantly reinventing itself aesthetically as well as business wise. With such a rich history, BAPE has always remained a strong and iconic force.

Shinsuke Takizawa (NEIGHBORHOOD)

1. Inspiration behind your Baby Milo?
It’s all blacked out. Black color represents NBHD. That combined with the Skull and Bone motif and “No. 1 Craft With Pride, Tokyo,” which is NBHD’s signature theme.

2 Favorite memory involving BAPE?
In ’96, both BAPE and NBHD grew up together in the streets of Harajuku. We always hung out all the time as friends, so I have a lot of good memories of the brand.

3. First item?
Shark hoodie. Sk8thing designed the shark hoodie originally, so when he was thinking about his ideas on the hoodie he visited my office. I looked at some of his designs and he looked at a few of my US Air Force books to get inspiration.

4. Favorite item?
Also the Shark hoodie.

5. Favorite collaboration?
Too many to name.

6. What has helped BAPE’s success over the past 25 years?
The brand’s ideas. Even when they were starting out, they always looked to reach higher levels, which helped them to breakthrough. They always keep it cool in the fashion space.

Eric Haze

Sk8thing James Bond Stash BAPE’s 25th Anniversary a bathing ape nigo streetwear tokyo japan ape shall never kill ape apes together strong interviews baby milo exhibitions

Heison Ho/HYPEBEAST

1. Inspiration behind your Baby Milo?
I wanted to do the 25th anniversary Baby Milo more freestyle than my past toy designs…it is created in more of my current painting and brush style.

2. Favorite memory involving BAPE?
Meeting NIGO in 1993 when BAPE was just starting out.

3. First item?
It is a black on black “Tape Busy Works” T-shirt…it was such early production there wasn’t even a BAPE sewn-in label on their T-shirts yet.

4. Favorite item?
Probably the T-shirt above…I also have a BAPE SDP boxed model set that is super rare.

5. Favorite collaboration?
When NIGO commissioned me to create the logo for “BAPE Sounds,” their record company.

6. What has helped BAPE’s success over the past 25 years?
Consistently good designs and products, along with super, super strong promotional values and direction.

Michael Lau

Sk8thing James Bond Stash BAPE’s 25th Anniversary a bathing ape nigo streetwear tokyo japan ape shall never kill ape apes together strong interviews baby milo exhibitions

Heison Ho/HYPEBEAST

1. Inspiration behind your Baby Milo?
It was an idea extended from my “What? We: Want!” Exhibition (2016) where I made use of sponges as tools for the paintings and sculptures. Then to imply how the Internet age now has made information plentiful (probably over) for all of us yet what remains is a question that I ponder.

2. Favorite memory involving BAPE?
I handmade a 12” action figure of my Gardener character Tatto wearing head to toe Bathing Ape back in 1998 to pay tribute to brand back then.

3. First item?
It was in my first meeting with NIGO in Japan to plan on a collaboration project together where he gifted me the first generation of BAPE watch.

4. Favorite item?
I guess the watch above?

5. Favorite collaboration?
This time!

6. What has helped BAPE’s success over the past 25 years?
At the beginning it was the smart creative direction of NIGO that made it successful and now I think I.T. is doing a great job to continue to evolve the brand to keep its connection with the youth.

Billy Choi, CEO of BAPE

1. Favorite memory involving BAPE?
Introducing the brand to I.T. 12 years ago, it was quite something.

2. First item?
A pair of BAPESTAs.

3. Favorite item?
The hoodies really.

4. Favorite collaboration?
It’s very hard to say. Every brand we choose, they are the best.

5. What has helped BAPE’s success over the past 25 years?
Actually, our direction has changed a little bit if you guys have followed us for the past 25 years. We are trying to open up the market for the younger crowd as well as sharing the history. We are quite unique in our industry. Also thanks to all the supporters in every country that has helped us with our success.

6. Future wishes?
If possible we want to bring the brand all over the world to let our costumers and fans have access to the brand easily. That’s our final goal.

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