When Tomoaki “NIGO" Nagao opened up Nowhere alongisde Jun Takahashi in 1993, he was a lowly stylist at Popeye magazine. Dubbed “Number Two” (hence, NIGO) by friends for his obsession with Japanese streetwear legend Hiroshi Fujiwara, he was considered a rising star in the Urahara scene. Their store, split down the middle, housed Takahashi’s Undercover on one side while NIGOs collectibles, vintage pieces and toys filled the other. Riding on the success of Nowhere, NIGO quickly followed suit with his own label, launched with fellow street acolyte Sk8thing. Opposite Undercover, BAPE was born.

Despite his fanaticism and meager budget—Nowhere was opened with only ¥40,000—NIGO’s clothing managed to capture the zeitgeist. Largely informed by his hyper-obsession with media, toys and the rise of Tokyo’s streetwear culture, BAPE encapsulated Urahara as a whole. A reference to both 1968’s Planet of the Apes and the popular Japanese idiom “A Bathing Ape in Lukewarm Water,” the label is equal parts media-obsessed and gluttonous, a celebration of sub-culture, popular culture and branding all at once.

Today, BAPE's ubiquitous camouflage and Ape Head motif are instantly recognizable and demand serious respect in the streetwear pantheon. Although NIGO is no longer affiliated with the brand and BAPE accessibility is larger than ever, the infamous Ape Head is still revered the world over. For those fans itching to dive deeper into the brands inspired by and adjacent to BAPE, we present a selection of brands that—either directly, aesthetically or spiritually—carry on the BAPE legacy. While the 1st Camo may be one of kind, these brands all inhabit a similar sphere of influence, using off-kilter graphics and cultural references to redefine streetwear.

Tags: originalfake, billionaire-boys-club, human-made, mastermind-japan, cav-empt, nigo, bape