A Bathing Ape’s revamped shop has a clean, simple look, but it hasn’t lost any of its cult following.
Japanese streetwear brand A Bathing Ape has relaunched its sole UK store after a six-month closure, prompting 500 diehard fans to queue outside on opening day.
The store, in London’s Soho, has also been renamed in line with the brand’s 25 other stores worldwide. Previously called A Bathing Ape “Busy Work Shop”, it is now simply branded BAPE Store.
The store was overhauled by Masamichi Katayama, founder of interior design firm Wonderwall and the man behind all of A Bathing Ape’s international store designs. Katayama has changed the single-storey space from an elaborate design with a camouflage-patterned back wall, wooden floorboards and T-shirts displayed in poster racks to a cleaner, simpler space with white walls, metal floor tiles and simple metal rails.
The shopfront’s previous simple black fascia has been transformed with a BAPE Store sign in red neon lights and two huge neon apes’ heads in the window.
A Bathing Ape’s stores are all updated regularly to reflect the ever-evolving brand. It launched in 1993 and has grown from a single Tokyo store to a streetwear lifestyle brand with several stores, plus a record label, cafe, hair salon and art gallery in Japan. Founder Nigo is also a DJ and part of hip-hop group Teriyaki Boyz.
The London store, the first outside Asia, opened in 2002 and is still the brand’s only one in Europe (other than a concession in independent department store Colette in Paris). It is one of just five outside Asia, the others being in New York, Los Angeles, Hong Kong and Taiwan.
The London relaunch follows a six-month sabbatical for the BAPE Store as a pop-up shop in designer store Dover Street Market. When word spread that the London BAPE Store was reopening, more than 500 people queued up to seek out limited-edition stock and also to meet Nigo and his friend, hip-hop artist and producer Pharrell Williams, with whom he has collaborated under the A Bathing Ape and Billionaire Boys Club brands. Limited edition pieces exclusive to the London store include T-shirts based on the new neon signage and London-specific camouflage patterns.
“Each BAPE Store has its own limited-edition items and its own colourway for the signature A Bathing Ape camouflage,” says UK brand owner Craig Ford. “We’re the opposite of most brands in that we always under-produce to keep the brand in demand.”
New items are sent to the store daily, with the brand achieving volume by designing huge ranges but making short orders of each piece. With fans travelling the globe for limited-edition pieces, the unusual concept is a huge success.
750 sq ft
Size of the store
Number of BAPE stores worldwide
Number of full-time staff at London store
- BAPE Store 4 Upper James Street, London W1