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               As of today, world famous designer and streetwear innovator Tomoaki “Nigo” Nagao keeps himself occupied with his altogether refined label, Human Made; focused on high-quality vintage reproductions and inspiring Originals. While running Human Made, Nigo is simultaneously the head of Japanese high-street powerhouse Uniqlo’s U.T. T-shirt line. While the partnership with Uniqlo has provided well rounded and loved clothing, the sporadic partnership he has with Adidas has given the public pieces worn by the likes of Kanye West and longtime friend Pharrell Williams. While the future certainly looks bright for Nigo due to his collaborative projects and his very own Human Made; Nigo has already unarguably solidified his position in the fashion, art and design world as an innovator and has become a source of inspiration for millions of artists and designers alike.

               In the beginning Nigo studied fashion at college while working for Popeye magazine as an editor and stylist. On April 1, 1993 “Nowhere” in Harajuku, Tokyo was born and Nigo’s first clothing shop was officially open for business. Nigo would proceed to create his own brand inspired by the iconic 1968 film Planet of the Apes. According to Nigo himself, when asked about the title “A Bathing Ape” (also referred to as BAPE) Nigo replied “It’s short for a Japanese saying “bathing in lukewarm water”.” The saying refers to the relaxed Japanese method of bathing which typically involves water at a temperature above 40 degrees Celsius (104 Fahrenheit) describing the comfortable lifestyle of today’s youth in Japan.

               Before the Brand would explode to the unforeseen heights of today, Nigo would push the BAPE brand forward and gain attention by producing thirty to fifty tees a week, selling around half by marketing them out of duffel bags at local parties and deejay shows and gifting the remaining clothes to close friends. With what had once started as a low scale business hustle and gifts for newborns and close friends, Nigo’s A Bathing Ape would eventually take the fashion and art scene by storm. By 2005 Nigo would have turned the beloved clothing line into a café, record label and beloved television show NIGOLDENEYE on MTV in Japan. Until it’s unfortunate closing in 2008 you could drop by the BAPE Café for a cheeseburger, curry, fried chicken, sautéed tuna, and green salad at the café if your not a fan of coffee or pastries. The record label (B)APE SOUNDS would work with The Neptunes, Kanye West, Cherie, J.O.Y. and Dub Master x. The television series would highlight the life of Nigo, A Bathing Ape, Billionaire Boys Club and interactions with the likes of N.E.R.D., The Neptunes, the Teriyaki Boyz, and life in Japan.

               With A Bathing Ape built on an ideal of luxury and exclusivity, everything from coffee mugs, hoodies, rugs and watches alike were branded with the iconic Ape motif, sold to anyone willing to purchase before the limited quantity would cease it gained a cult like following world wide. With Nigo being the child he was (A child in love with the creations of George Lucas, The Beatles and Elvis Presley) it was clear that he would grow to have a passion for art and collectibles. By 2010 Nigo would have collaborated with many of his inspirations and beloved companies such as Marvel and DC Comics, Super Mario, Transformers, SpongeBob, Hello Kitty and Disney’s very own Mickey Mouse. On April 30th 2013 an end of an era occurred when the historic Twenty-year run between Founder Nigo and A Bathing Ape split paths.

                “The company itself wasn’t in a very dire situation, but in the end I spent so much time looking after the management side that I wasn’t really able to do design,” he told WWD during an interview at his personal atelier. “I turned 40 [last December], there was the turning point of the brand reaching nearly 20 years since its establishment, and I think I made a forward-looking choice,”. Since the departure, A Bathing Ape has continued to flourish in the United States, China and the UK featuring collaborations with Peanuts, AstroBoy, DragonBall Z, Def Jam and Puma.

               In 2010 before the departure with A Bathing Ape Nigo teamed up with longtime friend and graphic designer Sk8thing on a new fashion entity titled Human Made. Enlisting similar elements from its predecessor A Bathing Ape, the brand consists of a vintage style approach focused on high-quality reproductions. Human Made has defined itself with muted color pallets, specialized prints, quality goods and spectacular branding. Human Made draws inspiration from American vintage clothing from the pre-1960s era, when addressing the inspiration Nigo stated “The future can be found in the past”. From workwear to denim, Human Made recreates retro pieces with an emphasis on quality and authenticity. Having collaborated with the likes of Adidas and longtime friend Pharrell, the brand has quickly established a stellar reputation within the streetwear scene. Since the launch of HUMAN MADE, Nigo and has collaborated with the likes of Coca-Cola, Apple, and Adidas for the newest brand.

               With Nigo being the vintage enthusiast he is, he’s citied the rockabilly subculture he encountered as a teenager and 50s American rock and roll icons as the prime influences for the newest brand. “What’s interesting now is that there are more people in Europe who are interested in American vintage clothing,” Human Made collection is entirely pre-1960s Americana-inspired. When conveying the second-hand styled approach Nigo said “I didn’t want to make anything for Human Made without actually having the garment to look at, inspect and see how it’s put together. Nothing has come from photographs. Pretty much everything is from my own collection, but rearranged.” “I don’t tend to search for things because I like the idea that you come across something and decide at that time if you like it or not.” The line features exquisite detail, earth tones rather than vivid contrasting colors and as always from Nigo; phenomenal quality. “I wonder if I am a pioneer” “I don’t feel like I have achieved that level yet”. “There are more things to be done, and I’m still training.”
It’s only a matter of time before Human Made garments are seen left and right on everyone’s favorite celebrities. Until then, enjoy the underground fashion secret that is Human Made by Nigo®.

An eerie and haunting rendition of Simon and Garfunkel’s “The Sound of Silence” premiered this past weekend on BBC Radio 1. James Blake and Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon collaborated on this cover as a dedication to Blake’s friend who past away this year. The track is true to Blake’s form, with minimal synth-bass and harmonized vocals. 

Little has been said about Blake’s fourthcoming album, Radio Silence, but it’s likely to have work from Kanye West and Vernon, both artists having created together before [My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy; Yeezus]. 

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