A Brief History of BAPE's Iconic Ape Head Logo & 1ST CAMO Pattern
The origins of two designs that defined a streetwear movement.
In 1993, Tomoaki “Nigo” Nagao founded A Bathing Ape, or BAPE, in Harajuku, Tokyo. Fascinated with hip-hop in his teens, Nigo was drawn towards Tokyo’s vibrant nightlife and club scene. Once he had fashioned a collection of vinyl records and purchased turntables, he began DJing in Tokyo clubs, before producing for Japanese hip-hop group, the Teriyaki Boyz. Afterwards, Nigo studied at Tokyo’s famous Bunka Fashion College, while working as an editor at Popeye Magazine.
Around this time, Nigo met Jun Takahashi (of UNDERCOVER), and the pair went on to found retailer NOWHERE, the very first stockist of BAPE when Nigo established the brand shortly thereafter. A true tastemaker and cultural arbiter, Nigo brought many of the era’s ideas and aesthetics to both NOWHERE and BAPE, becoming both a major force and a byproduct of Ura-Harajuku style.
Here we take a look back at BAPE’s early days, focusing on the brand’s Ape Head logo and 1ST CAMO pattern, two motifs that launched the Japanese label to the forefront of streetwear more than 20 years ago.