Mid-Winter isn’t the hottest time of year for retail, but it’s often a busy time of year for the business side of fashion: upcoming collaborations are announced, Spring/Summer collections are previewed, and of course there are multiple buyer’s shows. This past week included all of those, but the story that transcends them all is clearly the news regarding the purchase of Nowhere Co. – the parent company of A Bathing Ape – by I.T. Limited, an established fashion retail powerhouse in Mainland China; more on the deal after the jump. Nigo wasn’t the only persona behind a an Asian fashion empire we covered this week; Freshness had an exclusive feature with Edison Chen, focusing on the creative work EDC does – and steering clear of the tabloid gossip EDC generates in his role as a slightly bad boy Asian celebrity. Stateside in the fashion business, the Compass footwear show held this week offered a look at many upcoming sneaker/shoe/boot releases. One piece of footwear that stands out from the week is the Jeff Staple-designed Timberland Chukka, done with Kinetics; we also featured a video interview Staple recently did for MADE in Berlin. And Nike – a brand that doesn’t need a tradeshow to showcase new products and projects – kicked off the American Made documentary this week from the Sportswear division, while Nike Basketball released the Kobe Bryan-inspired Ophidiophobia video, and a full showcase of All Star Game footwear at the Staples Center. The Spring issue of VMAN magazine can’t be overlooked either, with it’s Karl Lagerfeld-shot cover, featuring Kanye West with an actual $1 bill in his mouth – in each copy. Also, while Supreme has been dormant since the end of the Winter sale, this week brought hints at upcoming projects – one a standby project with Vans, the other a Terry Richardson shoot of Lada Gaga, seemingly destined for future ad campaigns/T-shirts. Other Terry Richardson work in the news this week was his shoot for the Opening Ceremony X Levi’s Chambray collection, featuring less famous but very fresh-faced subjects. And not to be overlooked among all the big names and celebrity were some really solid apparel releases, including the Spring/Summer collection from Bedwin & The Heartbreakers and White Mountaineering. Check these out, along with details on all of the week’s news, after the jump.
Hong Kong’s I.T Buys 90% Of A Bathing Ape For $2.8 Million
It’s a rare business deal that makes the Wall Street Journal and the streetwear blogs, but the purchase of Nowhere Co. (parent company of A Bathing Ape) by I.T. Limited certainly was certainly. The news story was that I.T., an established trendsetting retailer in Mainland China, announced plans to acquire a roughly 90% stake in A Bathing Ape for the relative bargain of 230 million yen ($2.8 million) from Tomoaki Nagao, AKA Nigo. While the relative bargain price was somewhat surprising, the backstory offers some justification: Nowhere Co. suffered a net loss of 119 million yen in 2010, and 267.4 million yen loss the year prior; the company also has outstanding loans of 2.6 billion yen. In addition to being a reflection on financial problems at BAPE, the sale highlights the fact that the trend-following community in Mainland China has reached a undeniable maturity. While BAPE itself might be passe for the more discriminating consumer even in China, there is certainly a huge and underserved market ready for whatever I.T. does with BAPE. In a press release, I.T. said that it will “promptly rationalize Nowhere Group’s capital structure… and will implement stringent cost controls.” So while Nigo will be staying on for two years as a creative director, behind the scenes things will probably be a bit less fun.
Freshness Feature: CLOT’s Upcoming Collaborations A Conversation with Edison Chen
Edison Chen is known in the streetwear fashion world for CLOT, the collective of retail spaces and creative projects he oversees. Chen, aka EDC, also has pursued a career as a singer and actor, and there have been some controversies about after hours behavior, including some leaked phone pictures, which led to the cancellation of movie projects and a major media controversy. But as our feature shows, EDC is less of a gossip hound than a dedicated creative, who is staying extremely busy with a wide portfolio of current projects. Freshness sat down with Chen at the Causeway Bay, Hong Kong office of CLOT to discuss the creative processes and current projects of the group – including the excellent set of luggage and accessories based on the ubiquitous cheap plaid travel bag.
MADE Visions Of Visionaries With Jeff Staple | Video
Kinetics x Jeff Staple x Timberland 7 Eyelet Chukka Boots
Jeff Ng, more commonly known as Jeff Staple, is a constant force on the design scene. His incredible creativity combined with plenty of old-fashioned hustle means he shows up in projects spanning the full range of footwear and fashion to marketing and brand consulting. This week brought both a new Timberland project that Staple undertook along with Kinetics, and an video interview Staple did with MADE in Berlin. The video interview is part of the Visions of Visionaries series by MADE; Ng discusses the various facets of the Staple Design organization, and his insightful musings on creativity and fashion. Jeff also speaks on the development of the second issue of Reed Pages, which will be available soon.
Nike Sportswear: AMERICAN MADE: Stockholm
Yao Ming came to the NBA in 2002, and it’s no accident that basketball’s popularity in China has skyrocketed. Nike is among companies looking for a similar market-widening phenomenon in other countries, with one possible candidate being Jonas Jerebko from Sweden, who has been playing in the NBA since 2009, and is a part of the Nike stable. Nike Sportswear has produced a four part mini-documentary, revolving around Jerebko and his fellow Swede, hip hop artist Adam Tensta, called AMERICAN MADE, to fill out the backstory behind Jerebko and show a bit of his day-to-day life. The American MADE project will also feature a basketball tournament hosted by Jerebko and Tensta, on February 18th in Stockholm, which will feature four teams from Cali Crew, Sneakersnstuff, Tres Bién Shop and Shelta – reminiscent of the adi Cup. The videos are being released at the Nike Sportswear Sweden Facebook page, starting February 8th; in the meantime, check out the teaser video.
Nike Basketball Zoom Kobe VI: Ophidiophobia | Video
Nike Basketball Los Angeles All Star Game Footwear Presentation
Basketball fans and sneaker heads know that Kobe is the Black Mamba, and that the Kobe VII embodies that animal with a snakeskin texture upper. Nike Basketball stepped in this week with a quick video spot to focus on how the Mamba translates to on-court performance. Shot at New York City’s Xavier High School, Nike Basketball asked players from Nike Recess Federation (NRF) about their ophidiophobia [ophid·io·pho·bia] – the fear of snakes; not surprisingly, they all expressed a healthy fear. Also in Nike Basketball, The Vault at the Staples Center opened a major showcase of Los Angeles themed footwear for the 2011 NBA All Star Game. The opening event included an overview of the Nike Zoom Kobe VI and a presentation by Nike Product Graphic Designer Eric Goto, on the shoes in the pack, including the LA-themed Kobe VI, Hyperfuse Low and Air Force 1. Check out our coverage of the event here.
Kanye West By Karl Lagerfeld For VMAN Magazine
VMAN is arguably the preeminent men’s haute fashion magazine, Karl Lagerfeld is arguably the most influential (and eccentric) single designer alive today, and Kanye West is Kanye West. Put them all together, along with actual cash money, and you have the cover of the upcoming issue of the magazine. Lagerfeld shot West for the cover, and each issue of the magazine will feature a US $1 bill emerging from West’s mouth. Issues of VMAN do end up on eBay for high prices, and this issue is pretty likely to do so as well. Check out the initial preview here, and then the production of the covers here.