* Prices may differ from that shown
A Bathing Ape (known as Bape) is a 1993-founded Japanese Hip Hop clothing company. Different to most in that its very upmarket and not for the 'mainstream' Rap follower, Bape is known for its luxury clothing and footwear with suitable high prices to discourage those who it's not intended for buying it. Started in by Nigo in the early nineties, it's been known to be worn by the likes of Lil' Wayne, Jay-Z and Kanye West in its most prominent years (the latter of whom even got their own signature shoe line with them) and has since expanded beyond just clothing to a range of other markets too (although these are mostly restricted to just Japan).
Their popularity didn't really come until their expansion into the US in 2005 with the opening of the New York store (one which Kid Cudi worked in before his music career) and then Pharrell Williams got his own Billionaire Boys Club offshoot to go along with it. Their products received a massive boost when they came out with the Bape Sta range of shoes - footwear mostly done in bright, contrasting colours with shiny patent materials.
==The Bapesta 88==
The Bape Sta 88 dropped early in 2008 as a fresh new style for them. Shifting away from what they were known mostly for, the 88 is a mid-top style (which later got redone in lo-top style too) in order to give a throwback Hip Hop feel from the date in its name (1988). The shoes take on a basketball-sneaker style just as the original ones, but here go for a style which gives added ankle support due to the high place where the shoe ends up the foot and is made for casual use in spite of its look.
Although they first came out with just a handful of colours, they went on to add to this gradually to the point where they would become just as varied as the regular Bape Stas which allowed them to grow so massively in such a short space of time. The shoes didn't gain the same support as the original Bape Stas - due in part to a decreased popularity once the trend in wearing this brand came to a saturation point with some many fakes about, but to die-hard fans of the brand, are an exclusive item which shows that they weren't just into it during its mainstream days.
I was surprised to find that the box that these come in is just the regular Bape Sta box and is nothing new. Although this isn't really much of an issue, it would have been nice to get a little something extra but this wasn't the case. The box is a white and grey one with all the sort of embellishments that you'd expect of the brand. It seems to have a classy feel and holds the shoes well. Within you'll find an extra pair of laces too (blue ones with the navy shoes so I'd expect a similar trend with the rest where the ones already in the shoes are white). If you've got other Bapes then you probably wouldn't want to keep the box, but first time buyers (as I was) shouldn't be willing to throw this away as the Bape brand is so prestigious that it gives off the vibe that none of what they manufacture should ever be thrown away.
When Bape blew up in popularity through 2006 and 2007, I admired it from afar with the intension of getting into buying items of theirs once I was capable of doing so. The brand first became known to me in Summer 2006 when the then-unsigned Soulja Boy (Tell 'Em) came out with "I Got Me Some Bapes" and tore things up on the internet (long before he eventually took over the world with "Crank That"). As soon as I saw them I wanted a pair, however it wasn't until I was finally getting into money when I felt capable of actually owning some. Once this was the case, I went in pursuit of copping some, but was aware of just how many fakes there were out there. Searching all over the internet and settling on one website (one of very few to do so with real ones), I found a place to buy Bathing Ape shoes and soon after this Bape changed what they had done with their Nike Air Force 1-inspired Bape Sta and made some mid-tops, in the form of the Bape Sta 88 - immediately I bought a pair.
Although I had a little trouble with the website I bought from, as it took a whole month for my shoes to actually turn up. I was thrilled by the time I got them. At the time they were only in black, black and navy blue and I went for the latter of them. I put them on immediately as I was desperate to find out what they felt like. It was great to find that the heavily cushioned insides of them really hug the foot and ensure that you'll be satisfied by how much you're likely to have paid for them.
Although I still own these shoes (I'd never be able to throw them away when I consider how much they cost to buy) I no longer wear them out really. The shoes are really very durable and haven't shown any lasting damage from the wear and tear of having them out once every few months in the first year or so after I got them - and walking carefully whenever I had them on, and I thought that this should be expected for something which has such a hefty cost to it. I found that I gave the shoe extra special care every time I went out in them. The mid-soles required a wipe down so that they would look as white as they should and the elaborate sole design (which was great at attracting gravel) had to be in top condition by unpicking any little stones beforehand). The stitching is still all intact and there's no creasing and so should last as long as you want to wear them for.
The shoes are a nice casual piece. Although they may take on a sporting feel (with a basketball style) you'd be crazy to actually put them on in this situation or any involving grass at all as they should just be valued for their aesthetic value and comfort. These are a great show-off piece, especially for those who have peers who know about Bape. In my personal situation, many knew about Bape, but I was the only one capable of finding where to buy a pair and while most were worrying about regular ones, I had managed to get some fresh ones - yet to be seen anywhere else and in spite of the month-long wait for them to arrive, I was still far ahead of the times and surprised all when I turned up wearing them out of the blue.
The shoes make use of the popularity of the 'Sta(r)' logo and manipulate it so that they give a broad winged feel to the shoes in a similar feel to what early Air Jordans did. They feature a nice elephant print design running through it in navy over white and then lots of solid navy features such as the sole and logo details and these all seem to pay off to make for a quality look which can't really be matched by many others. The tongue is its defining feature as at the top it features the standard 'Bape' logo boldly to give an indication of what exactly they are if you weren't aware of what they are simply from the profiles of them.
I suggest that if you were to cop a pair, research them thoroughly first as its most likely that you'll have to get them from either Japan or the US and of course you'll want to make sure that the sizing is right the first time.
==Where To Buy==
So far, these have been my biggest footwear purchase ever. Costing around £180 (shipping included) upon release. The shoes were shipped directly from Japan from the American site I bought them from. Although they are still found where I got them from, its best off that you look for these on eBay and research whether the seller really has access to the real things (as Bape are amongst the most counterfeited shoes). The Bape store in London (the only offline retailer of A Bathing Ape products in the UK) tends to have most of its stock sold within days of new releases coming out and so it's not really worth going all that way (especially if you don't live in the South East) to go and get a pair as you'll probably be disappointed with what's actually available in the shop itself.