I am sure this topic has been at the heart of many street culture enthusiasts over the past few days, and this article by Neojaponisme’s W. David Marx touches on some very interesting points. Many of you must have a strong opinion about the iconic Japanese label who agreed to sell 90% of A Bathing Ape and its parent company NOWHERE to Hong Kong’s I.T. for a fee that surprisingly might not match our own value of the company. You can read an excerpt below or head over to Neojaponisme for full article.
“In Summer 2000 I came back to Tokyo to research the popular Ura-Harajuku street fashion brand A Bathing Ape for my senior thesis. My makeshift mentor was an editor of Hot Dog Press — a men’s lifestyle magazine from Kodansha that ceased publication in 2003 — who had covered the Fujiwara Hiroshi family of brands over the years.
One day he drew a triangle on a piece of paper with the x-axis being number of consumers and the y-axis being brand cachet. He explained, “At the top point here are very cool but low-selling brands. At the bottom of the triangle are all the mass market brands with huge sales but no cachet. The secret to A Bathing Ape and the Ura-Harajuku brands is that they keep themselves right in the middle of the triangle and don’t let themselves slip down. They have a healthy number of consumers but they make sure to never go all the way to the bottom.”
This was the general understanding about A Bathing Ape’s success: They would always use specific marketing techniques to appear underground even when selling to millions of young Japanese across the country. I understood this “brand cachet über alles” strategy to be so integral to their success that I ended my thesis with the prediction, “Once the Ura-Harajuku cultural complex disintegrates, Ape may lose its subcultural base and will be subject to the normal forces of fad market structures. [Founder] Nigo will probably stop producing Ape before this point in order to save the brand’s reputation.”
How wrong I was.
Continue to full article Neojaponisme.