Hip-Hop Power Goes Far

June 10, 2008 at 1:28 pm Leave a comment

Quick, how many people can you name in the photo below?


Give yourself two points for Kanye West; three points for hip-hop mogul Pharrell Williams. Ten points awarded for naming the guy in the middle: fashionista Tomoaki ‘Nigo’ Nagao.

These ruffnecks don’t just party hardy with the apple-bottom honeys, they’re purveyors of a multi-million dollar business stretching from Tokyo to Los Angeles and just about every other hip-hop/fashion-loving metropolis in America.

Nigo is the captain of a starship he calls A Bathing Ape (Bape for short), a streetwear brand known for its bright, bold colors and patterns. Loyal followers throw down $50 for a monkey-emblazoned trucker hat or $230 for a pair of sneakers; though 14 years ago when the struggling fashion student/DJ started the company, he figured a good way to sell a product was by simply giving it away to friends. His brilliant idea was to produce everything in short runs — make everything a ‘limited edition’ collector’s item.

Pharrell came around a few years later. Introduced through a mutual friend, the two decided to launch the Billionaire Boys Club and Ice Cream, two brands whose threads and soles Pharrell flaunts at every camera-flashing scene.

On the day that picture was taken, Nigo celebrated the opening of his first Bathing Ape store in Los Angeles. He welcomed hip-hop glitterati and showed off his latest wear to reporters. Pharrell and Kanye personally dropped by to congratulate him.

Nigo may not speak much English, but that hasn’t stopped him from building an empire. Leave it to a monkey to climb to the top! (^_^)


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