(Credit: A Bathing Ape)The best examples of corporate and product branding are usually found in consumer goods--companies like Apple, Coke, Nike etc. provide the rest of us with models to follow and relate to software. A great example in the fashion world is A Bathing Ape, a brand obsessively built and managed by Nigo and profiled on Portfolio.com. Back in 2001 I went to Japan and become semi-obsessed with the A Bathing Ape (BAPE) brand. Every hipster kid had a cool BAPE t-shirt or hat and I just had to have one. We finally found the store in Harajuku where the line to get in was about 25 people. Eventually we got in and I was too much of a lummox to fit any of the shirts they had left. We mistakenly opted against a throw rug which is now worth $5k on eBay. The BAPE brand is far more than just clothing, venturing into toys, furniture and pretty much anything you can slap a label on.
The clothes and footwear are intended to be seen as perishable; rare; manufactured that morning, perhaps; and presented for you in a sushi-bar-style display. Katayama points out that keeping clothes and sneakers behind glass also makes sense because of a unique problem posed by Bape's popularity: The stores have to look inviting despite the fact that, at times, there's little product available to buy. "We sell out too fast," Feltwell explains, "so the stores could look a bit forlorn."It's kinda like how Kiss branded everything though BAPE does things very exclusively (and expensively--T-shirts are $75). The brand made its way to the US and elsewhere through underground (hipster-doofuses) then overground (rap stars) means. The Portfolio article is a good introduction and should help marketers think about how they position their products.