There’s few things, brands, or people in the world of street culture that are as ubiquitous as A Bathing Ape. Founded by the legendary Nigo in 1993, it’s a brand that’s been at the forefront of cool for almost 25 years, and shows no signs of slowing down any time soon. They’ve survived ups and downs, trends, and even a sale to Hong Kong monolith I.T. Group in 2011. It’s safe to label them a street culture staple.
And an important moment in Bape history occurred ten years ago, back in 2007, Soulja Boy along with his right hand man Arab made a song that immortalized Bape’s signature sneaker, the Bapesta.
The song is a 4-½ minute time capsule back into the ringtone rap era. The beat is simple but fun, the chorus is catchy, the lyrics are mindless, and the dance moves and outfits showcased in the video are hilarious by today’s standards. It’s safe to say that the “ringtone rap” style didn’t age well (for all our younger readers: it’s known as ringtone rap because back in those days you needed a song with a catchy chorus so you could be cool when your phone rang), but the video is a great way to look back at a bygone era, and see how much has changed since then. Bape is even more popular now than they were back then (a true testament to their staying power), but there are certainly a lot of differences between then and now.
First and foremost: it’s more about the clothes than the shoes nowadays. Back in 2007 everyone loved shark hoodies, but Bape footwear (Bapestas, Roadstas, Skullstas and more) were where it was at. Bape sneakers, mostly fake, were everywhere you looked, and were the cool-guy statement of the time in hip-hop. The shoes are still popular today, but they don’t hold a candle to the popularity of shark hoodies, college logo tees, or camo pullovers.
Secondly: the fits are different. Back around 2007, if you were rocking Bape it was oversized. Your camo hoodie that was three sizes too big had to match perfectly with your kicks, which were mostly covered up by your giant straight-leg pants. Nowadays, you want your Bape to look trim. It’s Japanese after all, and most Japanese clothes are cut shorter and trimmer than American styles. The only thing that’s still big on your Bape in 2017? The hood on your shark sweatshirt.
And lastly, Bape is more well known than ever before today. Back then it was mainly for Japanese fashion nerds (believe it or not younger readers, it wasn’t always cool to be obsessed with Japanese clothing) or rappers, and although average Joes might recognize it, it wasn’t the instant head-turner that it is today. It’s grown up, blew up, and expanded to levels never previously reached. We’d wager that Soulja Boy and Arab never imagined something like this would happen when they were dancing around in parking lots and rapping about their fresh new (possibly fake) kicks.
We’re glad that era is over … but we’d be lying if we said it wasn’t fun to look back on. You’ve gotta learn about the past to truly understand what’s going on in the present (especially when it comes to streetwear and street culture), and it just makes you appreciate Bape’s staying power even more.
We’d also be remiss not to mention that we’ve got some dope Bape available now on our website … and some great old-school in-store exclusives as well. Stop through the shop soon and check it out! We just might have Soulja Boy and Arab’s classic bumping in the background.
Do you remember the Bathing Ape sneaker craze in the mid-00's? What's your favorite Bape piece currently? Hit us up and let us know on Twitter, check our Facebook page for updates, and, as always, be sure to follow us on Instagram for all the fire pictures you can handle.