Streetwear Icon NIGO Appointed as Kenzo’s New Artistic Director

The founder of A Bathing Ape and HUMAN MADE is the label’s first Japanese artistic director in 22 years.

It’s official: streetwear icon NIGO has been appointed as KENZO’s next artistic director, LVMH announced on Wednesday. The designer, known as the founder of A Bathing Ape and HUMAN MADE, succeeds Felipe Oliveira Baptista, who parted ways with the brand in June. NIGO is the first Japanese designer to hold the position since founder Kenzo Takada resigned in 1999.

In an official statement, NIGO said he was proud to take on the new role and also pointed out he was born in the same year Takada opened his first store in Paris and that they both graduated from the same fashion school in Tokyo. 

“Kenzo san’s approach to creating originality was through his understanding of many different cultures. It is also the essence of my own philosophy of creativity,” the designer said in the statement. “Inheriting the spirit of Kenzo san’s craftsmanship to create a new Kenzo is the greatest challenge of my 30-year career, which I intend to achieve together with the team.”

NIGO founded his revolutionary streetwear brand A Bathing Ape (aka BAPE) in Tokyo in 1993 and created the label’s recognizable shark motifs and camouflage patterns. He’s also known for his work in music, most notably as part of the Japanese hip hop group Teriyaki Boyz – the ones behind the track “Tokyo Drift,” from the 2006 Fast & Furious movie of the same name. 

In June, NIGO collaborated with Virgil Abloh for Louis Vuitton’s LV² Pre-Spring 2022 collection. He’s also previously collaborated with the likes of Pharrell, adidas, Pepsi, and Kanye West. NIGO is set to officially start at KENZO next week on September 20, just ahead of Paris Fashion Week.  

“The arrival of an extremely talented Japanese designer will allow us to write a new page in the history of the House that Takada Kenzo founded,” LVMH Fashion Group chairman and CEO Sidney Toledano said in the press statement. “I am convinced that the creativity and innovation of Nigo as well as his attachment to the history of the House will fully express all the potential of Kenzo.” 

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