LVMH has appointed Nigo, the Japanese streetwear pioneer and founder of A Bathing Ape as the new artistic director of Maison Kenzo. The women's and men's collections by Nigo will debut during Paris Fashion Week in January next year.
Kenzo Takada, who passed away due to Covid-19 complications last year, was a celebrated designer known for his joyous polychromatic aesthetic language and predilection for nature and diversity. He had resigned from his namesake label in 1999. The house has had three other creative directors before Nigo’s appointment but he will be the first Japanese designer to helm the brand since Kenzo Takada himself.
Nigo was born in 1970 as Tomoaki Nagao, the year Kenzo was founded. Both designers graduated from Bunka Fashion College in Tokyo. Kenzo was acquired by LVMH in 1993, the year Nigo launched A Bathing Ape, or BAPE.
It was during his time as a student at Bunka that Nigo met Jun Takahashi, who would go on to be another one of the most revered and seminal Japanese designers. With some help from the “Godfather of Harajuku” Hiroshi Fujiwara - under whose mentorship Nigo got his name which means “Number Two” - Nigo and Jun Takahashi founded NOWHERE. It was a niche fashion boutique located in Urahara where UNDERCOVER and BAPE were conceived.
Nigo has since been an inimitable force in the global streetwear culture and a phenomenal multi-hyphenate creative. He founded Billionaire Boys Club with Pharrell Williams in 2003 and the label Human Made in 2010 alongside longstanding collaborator Sk8thing, both of which turned out to be massively successful ventures. BAPE was sold to I.T. in 2011 and Nigo exited the brand in 2013.
LVMH has recently been in the news for a spree of activity, other major announcements being its minority stake in Phoebe Philo’s highly anticipated eponymous brand and a majority stake in Virgil Abloh’s Off-White™. Nigo’s streetwear acumen and Japanese heritage can breathe new life into Kenzo.