Tomoaki Nagao, better known as Nigo, holds fame as a hip-hop enthusiast, influential trendsetter, and the brain behind the globally acclaimed streetwear brand - A Bathing Ape. Yet, only a handful are aware of his deep-rooted passion for collecting pop culture artifacts and art pieces. Nestled in the heart of Tokyo stands a seven-story atelier, Nigo's personal sanctuary dedicated to the pop culture of the late 20th century.
This edifice is home to a staggering 10,000 clothing items, each diligently preserved in plastic bags or kept in Human-Made crates, spread across six expansive warehouse shelves. This assemblage is a harmonious blend of vintage finds and Nigo's original designs. Notably, he possesses incredibly rare pieces like the century-old inaugural Levi’s denim jacket, original works by Jun Takahashi for Undercover, and a unique Carhartt jacket modified by Stussy, which Nigo acquired from Supreme's would-be founder, James Jebbia, prior to the brand's inception. His collection further extends to exclusive Louis Vuitton and Goyard suitcase editions, with one bearing the signature of Takahashi Murakami, and a rich array of art pieces, including creations by renowned artists like Kaws and Futura.
Each artifact in his repertoire is selected with precision, backed by extensive research and holds a significant meaning to the designer. While many were procured from auctions or vintage outlets, others were gifts. But each piece has earned its place. For Nigo, his collection transcends mere nostalgia or present-day representation; it's a tangible forecast of future trends.
Nigo's passion for collecting is more than just an expensive hobby; it's a testament to his keen eye for the zeitgeist of every era. Every room of his atelier tells a different story, curated with the precision of a museum director. Walking through the space, one can't help but feel they are journeying through time, witnessing the evolution of street culture, fashion, and art over the decades. Each item, whether a piece of clothing or an art installation, reflects a moment, a movement, or a memory from the annals of pop culture.
Beyond the tangible items, Nigo's collection showcases his profound understanding of the symbiotic relationship between fashion and art. He recognizes that fashion, much like art, is a reflection of society and its shifts. The pieces he chooses are not just aesthetically pleasing but resonate with the cultural vibrations of their time. They act as markers, tracing the trajectory of street culture from its underground roots to its current mainstream dominance.
Additionally, Nigo's atelier is a melting pot of global influences. While there's a pronounced emphasis on Japanese craftsmanship and design, one can also spot elements from Western culture, street scenes of New York, artistic flair of Paris, and the eclectic vibrancy of London. This fusion is a testament to Nigo's belief that art and fashion are universal languages, bridging gaps and blurring boundaries.
What's even more intriguing about Nigo's collection is the narrative behind each item. The designer doesn't just collect; he immerses himself in the story of every artifact. Whether it's a rare vinyl record, a vintage sneaker, or a limited-edition toy, Nigo can recount the history, the creator, and the cultural significance behind it. This depth of knowledge transforms his collection from mere objects to cherished tales of time.
In conclusion, Nigo's atelier is not just a space filled with items; it's a living archive of street culture, art, and fashion. It encapsulates his journey, his inspirations, and his predictions for the future. While many might see it as a testament to his success, for Nigo, it remains a source of inspiration, constantly fueling his creativity and driving his next big venture.