Style

Like Supreme, streetwear brand BAPE has plans to go more mainstream

The global retail expansion by new investor CVC could harm the brand’s renowned exclusivity.

More than a hundred of young people queue in the hope of securing a limited-edition $599 camel-flap cap from Japanese clothing label Bathing Ape outside the Go! Ape fashion shop at Central.  12 May 2006 (Photo by Robert Ng/South China Morning Post via Getty Images)
South China Morning Post/South China Morning Post/Getty Images

A Bathing Ape has undergone the successful completion of investment from private equity firm CVC and is now looking at global retail expansion — meaning more BAPE stores could be opening worldwide.

As reported by Business of Fashion, BAPE was previously owned by I.T. Limited, before recently becoming an independent company on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. Now, the brand will be co-controlled by CVC, though both the amount invested and the size of CVC’s stake in the Japanese streetwear company were not disclosed.

Reshaping BAPE — CVC has made its plans for BAPE clear, however, highlighting that it seeks to grow the brand’s geographical and online expansion in Europe, the U.S., and China. Soon, BAPE and all of its sister brands — AAPE, Baby Milo, BAPE Black, and Mr. Bathing Ape, to name a few — will likely get more retail spaces around the world. Whether that expansion will affect the brands’ reputation for exclusivity and hype is yet to be determined.

South China Morning Post/South China Morning Post/Getty Images

“BAPE is an iconic brand with a loyal fan base that has defined the fashion industry with its premium streetwear designs. We are looking forward to bringing this exciting brand to more markets and new customers around the world,” said Yann Jiang, director at CVC.

Hype is here to stay — Last year, a similar sale made streetwear seem more mainstream, as hypebeast favorite Supreme was sold to VF Corp in a deal worth $2.1 billion. The Denver-based corporation — which also owns The North Face, Vans, and Timberland — said that amid the sale, Supreme would pretty much stay the same. Steve Rendle, chairman, president and CEO of VF, even told Women's Wear Daily: “We don’t want to mess it up."

Nearly seven months after the sale, Supreme is still selling out drops in minutes and has only added to its growing list of collaborators (some of which are also owned by VF). But like CVC, VF is working on expanding the brand, and recently opened a new Supreme store in Milan.

Supreme

A few more retail locations won’t hurt either BAPE or Supreme — although they rely on their exclusivity, making the brands more accessible in certain regions won’t affect sales. As demonstrated by Supreme’s new store, which arrived alongside a commemorative Box Logo tee, new retail locations are actually bolstering the brand’s hype with products exclusive to single stores.

For now, neither BAPE nor Supreme is losing its exclusivity through sales or acquisitions. No matter how many new stores open, consumers will still face barriers like resellers, limited products, and unattainable prices.