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For Japanese design hero Nigo, great style shifts with age. This explains why, after 18 years designing the sort of streetwear that garnered millions of hip-hop fans across the globe, he has turned his attention to something more formal. What started with T-shirts, trainers and design collaborations with Mr Pharrell Williams (for his own label, Billionaire Boys Club) has evolved into sharp tailoring, loafers and an exclusive online debut with MR PORTER. His new line (appropriately titled Mr. Bathing Ape) is a collection that merges two key aesthetics: British eccentricity and American classicism. And it is here at his design studio in Tokyo that the real work happens...

Q&A


Question
What an interesting desk. Where is it from?
Answers
It's a bespoke storage unit by Snap-on Tools, from Kenosha, Wisconsin. The colour is important. I like pop colours and Snap-on cabinets have great colourways. It's also a solid piece of equipment and it comes with a lifetime guarantee.
Question
Your workspace is clean and industrial - almost like a factory space - why did you want it that way?
Answers
That just seems to me to be the easiest environment to work in. I keep things clean and ordered by default. It is not something I really think about.
Question
What are the main items on and around your desk and why are they there? For inspiration?
Answers
There are several vintage displays and signs from the 1940s onward. They serve no purpose in particular, but I am a collector and I have a large collection of vintage signs and point-of-sale displays. These are just a few of my things in this picture. I am interested in brands and their history. I like industrial products, which, nonetheless, have character. I don't think they have inspired me directly, but I do see these things around me all of the time so perhaps they have without my realising.

Mr. Bathing Ape


Question
You made your name designing streetwear, which now has a cult following. What prompted you to launch Mr. Bathing Ape, with its contrasting emphasis on formal tailoring?
Answers
I am motivated to make things when I feel a personal need. I wanted and needed to have those kinds of clothes for myself, for my work. I think people always expected me to be casually dressed and, in many ways, I found myself exempt from dress codes. When I started to wear suits I discovered that sometimes to wear one for a specific meeting or occasion actually makes whoever I'm meeting - and also therefore myself - more relaxed than if I was wearing casual clothes. Perhaps that is also another symptom of me getting older, which is something else I was going to mention.
Question
You have spent time with some of Savile Row's finest tailors, including Huntsman and Anderson & Sheppard. How important is the British influence to Mr. Bathing Ape?
Answers
It is important. I really enjoy having suits made on Savile Row. I think there is more of a British than American influence in the clothes, but I am not trying to make anything authentically British at all.
Question
With more than 17 years of experience in the industry, what have you come to like most about fashion?
Answers
At the moment I like this encounter with suits. I am really glad to have become interested in the most basic style of menswear at this stage in my career. I like the fact that it's a world of simplicity, but great depth. There are rules that can be arranged or ignored, but never destroyed.
Question
You have worked with some of the biggest names in music, from the Beastie Boys to Mr Pharrell Williams and Jay Z, and DJ-ed for the Teriyaki Boyz, among others. Why do you think there is such a link between music and fashion?
Answers
I was a DJ and a stylist first and then I suppose I became a designer and musician. To me they were always part of the same thing from the start. I didn't particularly prefer one to the other, so to me it's a hard question to answer. In my case, I became more successful for fashion and so it must seem that that is my 'job', and for practical reasons it takes up far more of my time than music now.
Question
What item should every man have in his wardrobe?
Answers
I think I can recommend that everyone buys a pair of Levi's 501s and shrinks-to-fit at least once in their life.
Question
What are your top five 'must visit' places in Tokyo?
Answers
My shops (of course), Isetan department store (just being honest), Kabuki (the Kabuki-za, the main theatre, is currently closed for renovations/rebuild but there are performances all of the time elsewhere), Curry Up (another one of my establishments), Takeshita Dori (the real Harajuku?).
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