Japanese music producer, DJ and creator of BAPE, an urban clothing line; Tomoaki Nagao aka Nigo was born on 23rd December 1970. He took up fashion editing as one of his courses while studying in college and started working for Popeye Magazine as an editor and stylist. Nigo initially tried to build a reputation in the fashion markets of Japan with his T-store called ‘Nowhere’ launched on April 1, 1993 in Tokyo’s Harajuku district.
Nigo entered the American world of fashion when he started selling his camouflage printed hoodies and BAPE t-shirts in a small store. To spread the word about his new clothing line, he started producing about thirty to fifty pieces of merchandise at a time from which he sold half and gave the other half to his fashion savvy friends like Kanye West, Pharell Williams and other rappers. The BAPE merchandise soon became the talk of the town among teenagers and rappers alike and Nigo rose to fame in his homeland Japan as well as the US. Along with his successful clothing line under the name The Bathing Ape also known as BAPE, Nigo came up with a new sneaker called the Bapesta which was the epitome of collectible footwear. Quite similar to the Nike swoosh mark, the Bapesta logo was a lightning zap with a star instead.
Even though the BAPE clothing line and the collectible footwear may be very popular among the teenager, it would not be wrong to say that Nigo is a one hit wonder of the fashion industry. That is because most Americans find it very difficult to acquire BAPE merchandise since the only fully operational store is located in New York. The Los Angeles store shut its doors in the summer of 2010. Nigo is also known for his collaboration with Pharell Williams for his clothing line called the Billionaire Boys Club for which he is now the head designer and co-owner. He also designed a footwear line in partnership with Ice Cream Footwear brand. Nigo is currently serving as the creative director for the UT Brand of Uniqlo.
Nigo has also managed to create much hype in the music scene. He is the DJ of the popular group called Teriyaki Boyz which also produced the official soundtrack for one of the Fast & the Furious movies. Nigo also owns the BAPE Sounds record label. Much recently, he was also seen appearing on MTV Japan’s show Nigoldeneye. It is also interesting to note that the BAPE clothing line was not an utter failure because Nigo bagged the Style Award at MTV Asia’s Awards in the year 2005. Another little known fact about Nigo is that he also had a cameo appearance in a short film called Akihabara Majokko Princess by Takashi Murakami which made its way to the Tate Modern Gallery in London where it was shown at an exhibition called ‘Pop Life’.
Nigo has expanded the BAPE brand into BAPE Café and BAPE cuts along other business operations which have been quite profitable for him. However, Nigo announced on Instagram that he had denounced further association with BAPE and was no longer the designer and consultant of the famous streetwear brand. In 2011, BAPE was acquired by Hong Kong’s fashion conglomerate I.T. The conglomerate became a 90.27% stakeholder of BAPE in a transaction of a staggering $2,800,000. BAPE’s collaborations with MAC and Pepsi are worth mentioning along with its long time partnership with rappers like Kid Cudi, Beastie Boys, Soulja Boy and A$AP Rocky.