Nigo: I have on older brother and my parents. My brother has a son now. That’s pretty much it for my immediate family.
P: What was your childhood like?
N: Until the first year of junior high I was top of my class. Then, in the summer of my freshman year, I started to get really interested in clothing, so I stopped studying and looked at all the Japanese fashion magazines instead. I got into looking at Levi’s and how different eras had different styles.
P: How did you get so interested in fashion?
N: From fashion magazines and from the clothes I saw people wearing. My freshman year I got into Run-D.M.C., so I bought the Adidas Superstar sneakers and took the laces out.
P: What were your inspirations growing up in Tokyo?
N: I was really into American and European culture. In Tokyo you could by pretty much anything from the West, whether it was records or clothing.
P: Speaking of records, how did you get into music?
N: I started to get into it the same time I started to get into fashion; I started to get into the Beatles when I was in school. In Japan some people get into Western things, and for others it just doesn’t infilitrate at all.
P: How did your clothing label, A Bathing Ape, get started?
N: I had a shop in Harajuku, with all these different kinds of fashion items. From there I started to design my own clothing for the store. That was in ‘93.
P: And what’s the philosophy behind your clothes?
N: It’s just clothing that I’d want to wear, more American than European in style.
P: Well, speaking of America, you just opened you first store there, in New York City’s SoHo.
N: Yeah,I wasn’t sure where to put it at first, but I’m happy with SoHo.
P: What are the differences between Japan and the USA?
N: You know, in America nobody ever used to line up to buy sneakers, but now it’s starting to happen. Both cultures are getting similar in that way.
P: From the times that I’ve gone to Japan, the thing that I noticed is that Japan is made up of connoisseurs who enjoy different cultures. That’s what I found so interesting. Anyway, let’s talk about the expansion of A Bathing Ape from teh clothing label into music, art, cafes, and the hair salon.
N: I was just basically trying to make my life easier-like, whatever I needed in my life, I’d just make. I needed a beauty salon, so I put one in my store.
P: I admire that. What are your interests outside of music and fashion?
N: I’m interested in everything from art to furniture - anything that would be considered lifestyle.
P: What other worlds would you like to conquer?
N: I’d like to build a hotel and to create an amusement park - like building a dentist’s office with a roller coaster on top of it.
P: That would be incredible!
N: I’m into airplanes, too.
P: Yes, we all are. [Nigo laughs] So, the BBC [Billionaire Boys Club, the line designed jointly by Pharrell Williams and Nigo for Reebok], how does it differ from Bathing Ape?
N: Bathing Ape is my thing, and BBC comes from your ideas. It’s a collaboration, so I can make things that I could never make otherwise.
P: Wow, such a compliment.
N: If I hadn’t met you, I would never have done the Ice Cream shoe company [another joint venture between Williams and Nigo for Reebok].
P: That means a lot. What do you feel is the secret of your success?
N: The theme of my life is, “Life is a game.” I’ve never really thought about success, about what I did in the past, or what might happen in the future. I’m just trying to make the moment exactly what I want it to be.
P: What do you want to say to bootleggers?
N: That if you have enough creativity or energy to be a bootlegger, why don’t you just make your own thing? But then it also shows my own status and how successful my line is, because nobody bothers to rip off what you do unless you’ve succeeded.
P: In other words, you’re saying, “Get off my d.ick!” [Nigo laughs] Anyway, man, I just want to say thank you from embracing me and helping to make my dream come true. Every time we make a new shoe, a new shirt, or a pair of jeans, it adds anothe chapter to my dream coming ture. It’s rags to riches. So, is it only going to be the big store here in the USA, or are you going to bring the gallery, the haircuttery, and all those other things here, too?
N: Maybe a cafe, but it might be hard.
P: Any palns on distributing the toys that you make over here or even bringing over the toy store?
N: Well, in the summer I want to try to do something different with the toy stuff, so I might not bring it over here quite yet.
P: You’ve got to make some grown-up-size furry bedroom slippers, like the ones you make for kids.
[Nigo shakes his head “no”]
P: I wear them! [laughs] Because, here’s the thing, I try to find Sponge Bob slippers all the time, and they never make them for grown-ups. I like wearing them around my crib with a girl - if you got them on, it lets her know you got a fun side to you, too. So, do you enjoy being an anonymous figure in Japan, but one with power and respect at the same time?
N: I guess I’ve never really though about it, but it’s a position that hasn’t really existed in the past.
P: I feel the same way. Like, before we had any sort of record sales or clothing sales, we were considered weird. There are definately more people like us, we’re two of a group of individuals who celebrate expression, and people are beginning to appreciate that now.
My last blog post I talked about how I would choose flying as my super human power. Today I experienced flying & I definitely have not changed my mind.
I have always had this fear of falling. I am not afraid of heights (hot air balloon rides have cured me of that), but falling really scares me. So this year when Courtney, Ben, & I bought season passes to Lagoon; Courtney made me promise that I would go on the Sky Coaster with her. The Sky Coaster is one of those rides that you have to pay extra to go on. Basically they harness you in and pull you up to the top of this 150 foot tower and you pull a cord and you just drop and then swing. I did NOT want to go on this ride, but somehow Courtney tricked me into promising her that I would. So today we were at Sizzler’s eating dinner and Ben mentioned that tonight was the last night of the Lagoon season. I was sad because I hadn’t been since the middle of the summer. So we decided to go!
We get there and I am seriously feeling like I am about to vomit due to a combination of dry mouth, anticipation of going on the Sky Coaster, and anxiety from the meanest prank Courtney & Ben have ever played one me. Jerks! We buy our tickets and wait in line for two hours. Finally they get us strapped into our suits and we are standing on the platform and I turn to Courtney and say “What the heck are we doing??!?!?!?” by that time she was thinking the same thing. The people that went before us were being taken down and were talking about how completely awesome the ride was. I did not believe them. They hook us up and drop the platform and we fall forward and Courtney seriously begins to cry. Ben is just hanging there all quiet, and I am yelling stuff like “Oh man this hurts! Why are we doing this?! I am freaking out! COURTNEY ARE YOU SERIOUSLY CRYING??!?!?!” They start to pull us up slowly and I watch the ground get farther and farther away. My eyes got wide with fear, my heart was pounding so hard I could feel it throughout my body, and I was yelling at Ben not to pull the cord. He did.
What happened next was the most magical thing that has ever happened to me. I flew. I threw my arms out and yelled “This is the best ride of my life!!!” and “I am flying!!” and “This is so fun!” It was dark out so we could see all the lights in the valley. I wished that I could release myself from the harness and fly on my own like a bird in the night sky. I wondered what the worker would think when my harness came back empty. I thought about how I should probably fly down to the workers and tell them I am alright and that thanks to them I discovered that I could fly. I probably would have flown back to Texas just to tell my parents the news. Then skimmed across the ocean because I haven’t felt the salty water in far too long. Then I would have slept in the clouds.
I was sad to get off the ride. I wanted to fly forever. We then left Lagoon. It was almost 10 and the park was closing. I don’t care that we only got to go on one ride. It was so worth it.