A Bathing Ape swings into e-tail, opens website for U.S. shoppers
Maybe it's fallout from the economy -- or the fact that this Internet thing might be around for awhile, but I just caught this morning's Racked LA post (via Hypebeast), noting that A Bathing Ape ( a.k.a. "Bape") -- which opened only its second U.S. boutique here in Los Angeles (8001 Melrose Ave.) in April 2008 -- has finally decided to make some of its wares available to stateside shoppers online.
In addition to being able to impulse-buy $199 camo shorts, $73 T-shirts and $212 comic-book-colored patent leather sneakers, the website also provides a chance for fans to look at the current season's collection (though it's not necessarily the same stuff that's being sold two clicks away, mind you) and disseminate the label's latest news -- such as the fact that the second edition of a "Ghostbusters" and A Bathing Ape collaboration (which depicts the Baby Milo character driving the Ecto-1 "Ghostbuster"-mobile) hits stores in New York and Los Angeles today.
As e-commerce sites go it's nothing to go ape over, but still a vast improvement in the customer interface department. Just last year, in a run up to the opening of the Melrose boutique, the only Web presence I could find was an unwieldy downloadable text-heavy page (most of which was in Japanese). While it probably helped preserve the cult status of the label, I found it more than a little annoying.
Now that BAPE has made the leap to e-commerce, it will be interesting to see how it keeps from careening into Von Dutch- or Ed Hardy-like overexposure.
My guess is that goods like $73 T-shirts and $23 zipper pulls will keep A Bathing Ape safe and sound -- until about two paychecks past the recession.
-- Adam Tschorn
Photo: A Bathing Ape's founder Nigo in the Melrose Avenue boutique in April 2008. Credit: Liz O. Baylen / Los Angeles Times.