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Nigo's Odyssey in Fashion, Music, and Creative Brilliance.

Step into the vibrant streets of Tokyo, where on December 23, 1970, Tomoaki Nagao, or the legendary Nigo, was brought into the world. His journey through the realms of fashion and creativity has not only left an indelible mark but has also reshaped the very fabric of urban fashion and music. Let's embark on a captivating narrative that unveils the genesis of iconic brands and monumental collaborations, weaving a tale of innovation and influence.


The Birth of BAPE and Nowhere


Nigo's odyssey in fashion commenced at the prestigious Bunka Fashion College in Tokyo, where fate intertwined his path with lifelong companions. Alongside Jun Takahashi and the influential Hiroshi Fujiwara, Nigo laid the foundation of Nowhere in 1993. Nestled in Tokyo's Harajuku district, this boutique became a melting pot for international streetwear and gave birth to Nigo's flagship brand, A Bathing Ape (BAPE).


The moniker "Nigo," translating to "number two," paid homage to his visual resemblance and the pivotal assistant role he played under Fujiwara. BAPE, adorned with its distinctive ape iconography and camouflage prints, swiftly transcended into a cultural phenomenon. The strategy of scarcity, fulfilling only 10 percent of demand, added fuel to its popularity. Icons like Notorious B.I.G. and James Lavelle propelled BAPE into the mainstream, marking its unprecedented success.


Diversification and Collaborations


The early 2000s witnessed Nigo's creative genius extending into sneaker culture with the birth of Bapesta, a collectible footwear line. Collaborations with Pharrell Williams bore fruit in 2005, giving rise to two successful brands – Billionaire Boys Club and Ice Cream.

Despite financial challenges leading to Nigo's unexpected departure from BAPE in 2014, the brand persisted as a stalwart in the world of streetwear.


Nigo's Harmonious Symphony


Beyond the realms of fashion, Nigo made waves in the music scene. As the maestro behind the Teriyaki Boyz and the head of the BAPE Sounds record label, he orchestrated a musical journey entwined with hip-hop and pop culture. Collaborations with artists like Daft Punk, DJ Shadow, and Pharrell enriched this symphony.


A Fresh Chapter: Kenzo and Beyond


In a surprising turn of events, Nigo assumed the role of creative director for Uniqlo's UT line in 2014, showcasing his versatility. Collaborating with Louis Vuitton's Virgil Abloh in 2020 underscored Nigo's enduring influence on the global fashion stage.


The latest chapter unfolded when Nigo stepped into the role of creative director for Kenzo in 2021. His debut collection in 2022 marked not only a new era for Kenzo but a testament to Nigo's commitment to pushing boundaries in the fashion industry.


The Dynamic Duo: Pharrell-Nigo Collaboration


The synergy between Nigo and Pharrell Williams emerged as a driving force in both fashion and music. Collaborations birthed iconic brands like Billionaire Boys Club and Ice Cream, reshaping streetwear culture globally. Nigo acknowledges Pharrell's pivotal role, emphasizing that transcending Japan's borders wouldn't have been possible without Pharrell's recognition.


The Future: Nike & Nigo Collaboration


Recent rumors hint at a collaboration between Nike and Nigo, sparking anticipation for new ventures in 2024. As Nigo continues to redefine and diversify his creative pursuits, the world eagerly awaits his next move.


In the ever-evolving landscape of fashion and creativity, Nigo stands as a trailblazer, seamlessly weaving together the threads of fashion, music, and culture. His story remains an ongoing inspiration, shaping the contemporary narrative of urban expression.


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Words by AW.

Photo courtesy of Kenzo.

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