Jun 6, 2024 - Business

Bape opens first Chicago store

Photo of shirts and shoes folded on a table

The Chicago Camo collection. Photo: Courtesy of Anthony Tahlier

Japanese streetwear brand Bape opened its fifth U.S. store this week in Chicago's Gold Coast.

Catch up quick: Tomoaki "Nigo" Nagao started Bape, which stands for A Bathing Ape, in 1993 in Harajuku, Japan, from his love of hip-hop and fashion. He created a limited number of T-shirts to build up exclusivity and hype of the brand.

  • It worked. He quit his day job and sold Bape to a Hong Kong fashion conglomerate; Bape now has 40-plus stores worldwide.
Photo of a wall of shoes
A Bape spokesperson says sneakers have become the go-to product for many shoppers. Photo: Carrie Shepherd/Axios

Fun fact: Nigo told CNN in 2006 the name started as a joke in reference to the Japanese saying "a bathing ape in lukewarm water," a criticism of overindulgence and complacency.

The vibe:
A two-story, all-glass front features neon art, and life-size silver statues line the staircase in the heart of the luxury shopping district on Oak Street.

Zoom in: Shirts, hoodies, hats and other accessories feature the signature ape head on brightly colored camo patterns.

  • Don C, who has worked with the NBA and the late fashion designer Virgil Abloh, created the Chicago Bape collection, which was inspired by the red, white and light blue of the Chicago flag and features iconic symbols like the Chicago Theatre marquee.
Photo of a stairwell descending into a clothing store
The Oak Street store. Photo: Courtesy of Anthony Tahlier

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