After six months in the basement of Dover Street Market, A Bathing Ape has re-opened its London store. While the address (Upper James Street) hasn’t changed, the architecture has, thanks to a major refurbishment by Masamichi Katayama of design firm Wonderwall. Esquire took the opportunity of Nigo’s trip to the UK to quiz him on his taste for British style - and Savile Row in particular.
Why did you want a store in London?
“This was the first place I wanted to open a shop outside of Japan. I have always been influenced by London streetstyle and I used to travel here a lot even before I opened the store. The fashion scene I grew up with in Tokyo was very influenced by London’s scene, which was very fast-moving and good at fusing lots of different influences together.”
What was your brief for the design of the new shop?
“I wanted it to be clean and simple. I have always loved neon signs and I wanted that to be the main feature of the store design.”
We’ve heard about your taste for Savile Row suits – what about them appeals to you?
“I am interested in what they do because it is very different from what I do. I wanted to see the process and I appreciate the clothes. I have always been concerned with trying to achieve the quality and consistency of industrial production but on a really small scale; whereas they are making one-off pieces tailored for the individual customer.”
Who’s your tailor and how did you pick them?
“Anderson & Sheppard - because I had heard of them. I also have suits made by Huntsman. They represent the two very different styles of Savile Row. I like both for different reasons.”
When do you wear a suit?
“Sometimes to work - I have never had to wear formal clothes to work so it doesn't seem like a duty or a chore; it’s actually quite refreshing.”
How does Savile Row, which emphasises tradition, compare with the frenetic world of fashion, which emphasises novelty?
“One of the main things that interests me about clothes is how they are made for now and yet in rare cases they gain value over time. That's why I like vintage stuff: it was made for a very commercial reason, but over time it acquires a different value. I have never wanted to make stuff which is just throw-away.”
A BATHING APE® , 4 Upper James Street, London W1 (020 434 2541; www.bape.com)