A BATHING APE
After studying fashion editing at college, celebrated Japanese designer and garments guru Tomoaki Nagao borrowed four million yen from a close friend to launch his very own streetwear brand. More commonly known as Nigo, the designer oversaw the rapid growth of BAPE – the instantly recognisable abbreviation of streetwear giant, A Bathing Ape. With stores opening across Hong Kong, New York City, London, Paris and Singapore, Nigo sold the company to Hong Kong fashion conglomerate, the I.T Group in 2013 for approximately $2.8 million.
Specialising in men’s, women’s and children’s lifestyle and streetwear, the brand is instantly recognised by its bold graphics and eye-catching 90’s influences, with Nigo highlighting groups such as the Beastie Boys and Run DMC as early inspirations. BAPE’s massive line of products features collaborations with characters from popular media such as Marvel Comics and Hello Kitty, with a number of notable brand collaborations with labels like Stussy, Carhartt and Supreme. According to Nigo, the name “BAPE” is a reference to “A Bathing Ape in Lukewarm Water” – a Japanese symbol of youthful overindulgence.
Off-White founder and CEO Virgil Abloh entered the world of fashion in 2009 after entering an internship at Fendi alongside close friend Kanye West. It was this internship that fostered a budding artistic collaboration between the pair, with Off-White being launched three years later in Milan, Italy. Over six years into its existence and Off-White has emerged as one of the leading streetwear brands in Europe, with its garments spotted on many a celebrity including Rihanna, Jay-Z, Kylie Jenner and, of course, Kanye West himself. This is certainly impressive for Virgil Abloh’s debut in the world of streetwear, and Time Magazine’s naming of the Ghanian-American designer as one of the 100 most influential people in the world is a testament to that fact.
Off-White specializes in season-to-season men’s and women’s lifestyle and streetwear clothing and now boasts 24 stores across the globe. Off-White can be spotted in high-end retailers such as Selfridges, House of Fraser and Harrods, and currently offers several style-collaborations with massive brands such as Nike, Jimmy Choo and Converse. Off-White has recently announced a partnership with Swedish furniture giant, IKEA, designing affordable furniture for first-time homeowners. The collection will be named ‘Markerad’ meaning “clear-cut; crisp; pronounced” and is scheduled for release in 2019.
London-based streetwear brand Minus Two is all about embracing the weirdness, confusion and downright hedonism of our youth. The label was founded in late 2017 by former PAUSE fashion editor Terence Sambo and has already attracted a small, yet fiercely loyal fan base. Finding its identity in oversized graphics and twisted religious iconography, Minus Two markets itself as a label worthy of a cult following, in what is a seriously interesting combination of choir-boy and chav-chic styles.
The company launched its first debut collection, ‘Church Boys’ last year – securing the brand’s reputation as one to watch in lifestyle and streetwear. The label’s innovative approach to polo shirts and crewneck sweatshirts have garnered positive reactions amongst the fashion-conscious, with each piece offering its own, unique Minus Two twist. Religious slogans are mercilessly appropriated, with garments modelled by less-than-holy looking subjects outside the tower blocks of London. With Minus Two, Terence Sambo has created a streetwear brand which encourages its wearer to raise a middle finger to labels imposed on them by society.