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Nigo, 2006
Nigo, 2006
Background information
Also known asNigo®, Tomoaki Nagao
Born (1970-12-23) December 23, 1970 (age 52)
OriginMaebashi, Japan
Occupation(s)Fashion designer, DJ, record producer, entrepreneur
Years active1993–present

Nigö (ニゴー, Nigō, born Tomoaki Nagao (長尾 智明) on December 23, 1970) is a Japanese fashion designer, disc jockey (DJ), record producer and entrepreneur. He is best known as the creator of the streetwear brand, A Bathing Ape (Bape), and currently serves as co-founder creative director for Kenzo.[2][3] Additionally he is a member of the Japanese group Teriyaki Boyz, serving as their official in-house DJ since the group's 2005 debut.

Fashion background[edit]

Nigo's venture into fashion started when he founded A Bathing Ape in 1993.[4] Hiroshi Fujiwara is considered his mentor.[4] He initially sold a few Bape Hoodie and T-shirts and camouflage print hoodies in a small store, items which became very popular among teenagers. In 2002, Nigo released the Bapesta sneaker,[5] which according to BBC presenter Jonathan Ross, later became the "epitome of collectable footwear".[6] The sneaker resembles Nike's Air Force 1 design,[7] but instead of the swoosh on the side, it has Nigo's Bapesta logo, a star with a lightning zap extending out of it. In the cover news of the April issue of the trend magazine WWD for Japan, Bape's boss Nigo (formerly known as Tomoaki Nagao) announced that he is about to leave and he will be leaving with Takahashi UC (Undercover) designer Jun Takahashi. Nowhere, established on April 1, 1993, no longer serves as the designer of Bape. In 2003, Nigo partnered with Pharrell Williams to create and launch the streetwear brands Billionaire Boys Club[8] and Ice Cream footwear. Nigo himself also established his personal new company Nigold on April 4, 2009.[9] In 2010, he launched his new brand Human Made. In 2013, Nigo left Bape for good.[4] In 2014, Nigo became the creative director for Uniqlo's UT brand.[2][10] In 2020, Nigo partnered with Luxury brand Louis Vuitton alongside Virgil Abloh to create a capsule collection.[11] In September 2021, Kenzo appointed Nigo as its new artistic director. In July 2023, Australian winery Penfolds appointed Nigo as its Creative Partner of two years.

Musical and entertainment background[edit]

Nigo's first involvement with music was playing in punk cover band Tokyo Sex Pistols while at university, alongside fellow fashion figures Hiroshi Fujiwara, Jun Takahashi and Hikaru Iwanaga.[4] Nigo collaborated with James Lavelle, creating a compilation called A Bathing Ape vs Mo Wax, which was released in Japan in 1997.[4] He would go on to join forces with Lavelle's project, U.N.K.L.E., and Scratch Perverts, to release the single Ape Shall Never Kill Ape, in 1998.[4] The following year saw the Japanese release of Nigo's debut album, Ape Sounds, on which he showcased a blend of trip-hop, dub, indie rock, and psychedelic pop.[4] The album featured contributions from Ben Lee, Money Mark, Shawn Lee and Cornelius.[4] It was released internationally by Mo Wax in 2000.[4] Nigo subsequently released a number of non-album singles, which included collaborations with Rakim and Flavor Flav, as well as compilations Ape Sounds Remix, (B)APE Sounds, and Return of the Ape Sounds.[4]

Soon after the establishment of Billionaire Boys Club, Nigo formed rap group Teriyaki Boyz alongside Ilmari, Ryo-Z, Verbal, and Wise.[4] The group released the albums Beef or Chicken in 2005 and Serious Japanese in 2009, respectively.

Nigo has been associated with popular rap and hip hop artists such as Kanye West and Pharrell Williams. He is the DJ of Teriyaki Boyz and is also owner of Bape Sounds record label.[12] He also has an MTV Japan show which he created called Nigoldeneye.[13]

Together with BiS manager Watanabe Junnosuke, Nigo was the producer and manager for the female pop group Billie Idle.[14] His involvement with the group began in 2014, when he directed a music video for BiS' song "Nerve",[15] and after the group disbanded, Nigo and Watanabe offered BiS members First Summer Uika and Hirano Nozomi the chance to join their new project, Billie Idle. The group debuted in 2014 with the album "Idle Gossip", for which Nigo is the executive producer.[16] Billie Idle would go on to release a further four albums before disbanding in 2019.[4]

On January 28, 2022, Nigo and ASAP Rocky released the song "Arya", serving as the lead single for Nigo's album, I Know Nigo!, released via Victor Victor Worldwide and Republic Records on March 25, 2022. It marks Nigo's first solo album since 2005's Nigo Presents: Return of the Ape Sounds.[17] I Know Nigo! was co-executive produced by Nigo alongside Pharrell Williams. Williams and Nigo had first collaborated nearly two decades earlier, when the Neptunes contributed production to Beef or Chicken. The album's second single, titled "Want It Bad", was released in collaboration with American musician Kid Cudi. The album includes guest appearances from Tyler, the Creator, Clipse, Gunna, Teriyaki Boyz, ASAP Ferg, Pusha T, Lil Uzi Vert, and the late Pop Smoke.

Art collector[edit]

Nigo met artist Kaws in 1996 and became an early supporter of his work. In 2005, he commissioned him a painting and Kaws painted the Kaws Album.[18] The painting was sold in 2019 for $14.8 million at Sotheby's in Hong Kong among other artworks. The total of the sales of his art collection was $28 million.[19][20]

He also worked with Futura, Stash, Hajime Sorayama, and André Saraiva.[21]


  • Nigo speaks little or no English and uses a translator whenever he does interviews.[22]
  • Nigo has a cameo appearance in the Takashi Murakami short film Akihabara Majokko Princess shown at the "Pop Life" exhibition at Tate Modern in London.


Studio albums[edit]

List of studio albums, with selected details and chart positions
Title Details Peak chart positions


Ape Sounds
I Know Nigo! 89 170 21 29 13 6


As lead artist[edit]

List of singles with chart positions
Title Year Peak chart positions Album


(with ASAP Rocky)
2022 8 I Know Nigo!
"Want It Bad"
(with Kid Cudi)
"Hear Me Clearly"
(with Pusha T)
"More Tonight"
(with Teriyaki Boyz)
(with Lil Uzi Vert)
23 14
"—" denotes a recording that did not chart or was not released in that territory.

Other charted songs[edit]

List of charted songs, with selected chart positions
Title Year Peak chart positions Album



"Lost and Found Freestyle 2019"
(with ASAP Rocky and Tyler, the Creator)
2022 89 12 6 40 I Know Nigo!
"Come On, Let's Go"
(with Tyler, the Creator)
7 4 35


See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Nigo Signs to Steven Victor's Victor Victor Worldwide, Plans Release for New Album". Complex Networks.
  2. ^ a b Lemola, Hasse (November 18, 2016). "NIGO on the Intersection of Streetwear & Fast Fashion". Hypebeast. Retrieved January 13, 2017.
  3. ^ "Nigo | HYPEBEAST". Retrieved March 1, 2020.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l "Nigo". Spotify. Retrieved April 16, 2023.
  5. ^ "Bathing Ape Bapes History | SneakerFiles". SneakerFiles. Retrieved July 4, 2018.
  6. ^ "Bape - A bathing ape - Nigo interview with Jonathan Ross". Archived from the original on September 17, 2008. Retrieved October 8, 2008.
  7. ^ "A Look Back at the Best BAPESTAs Ever Released". Hypebeast. Retrieved July 4, 2018.
  8. ^ "POLLS: Can Pharrell Really Save Billionaire Boys Club and IceCream?". Hypebeast. January 29, 2016. Retrieved July 27, 2020.
  9. ^ "Bape". Archived from the original on January 28, 2013.
  10. ^ Cochrane, Lauren (January 21, 2014). "Nigo: 'Uniqlo is streetwear too'". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved March 1, 2020.
  11. ^ "Here's a Look at the Upcoming Louis Vuitton x NIGO® Capsule Collection". Complex. Retrieved July 27, 2020.
  12. ^ "Genius | Song Lyrics & Knowledge". Genius. Retrieved July 27, 2020.
  13. ^ "sothebys".
  14. ^ "BILLIE IDLE®". Billie Idle (in Japanese). Retrieved July 23, 2016.
  15. ^ Vice Japan (June 4, 2014), BiS / nerve directed by NIGO®(2.5D × VICE), archived from the original on December 21, 2021, retrieved July 23, 2016
  16. ^ Idle Gossip, Space Shower Music, retrieved July 23, 2016
  17. ^ Helfand, Raphael (January 28, 2022). "Nigo and A$AP Rocky share "Arya", a time capsule from the near past". The Fader. Retrieved January 31, 2022.
  18. ^ "KAWS Shatters Auction Record with $14.8 Million USD Painting". Hypebeast. April 2019. Retrieved July 27, 2020.
  19. ^ "Sotheby's Was Hoping This Kaws Painting of 'The Simpsons' Would Sell for $1 Million. It Just Went for $14.7 Million". artnet News. April 1, 2019. Retrieved March 1, 2020.
  20. ^ "Millennials in Hoodies Spend $28 Million on Simpsons Art". April 1, 2019. Retrieved September 7, 2020.
  21. ^ "NIGO's Sotheby's Auction Just Brought in More Than $28 Million". Highsnobiety. April 1, 2019. Retrieved March 1, 2020.
  22. ^ Sanchez, Karizza. "Kid Cudi & Nigo Talk Streetwear, Music & Kids See Ghosts 2". Retrieved July 27, 2020.
  23. ^ "The ARIA Report: Week Commencing 4 April 2022". The ARIA Report. No. 1674. Australian Recording Industry Association. April 4, 2022. p. 6.
  24. ^ "Nigo – I Know Nigo!" (in Dutch). Ultratop. Retrieved April 3, 2022.
  25. ^ "Canadian Albums: Week of April 9, 2022". Billboard. Retrieved April 5, 2022.
  26. ^ "NZ Top 40 Albums Chart". Recorded Music NZ. April 4, 2022. Retrieved April 2, 2022.
  27. ^ "The Billboard 200: Week of April 9, 2022". Billboard. Retrieved April 5, 2022.
  28. ^ "Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums: Week of April 9, 2022". Billboard. Retrieved April 5, 2022.
  29. ^ Peaks on the NZ Hot Singles Chart:
  30. ^ "Lil Uzi Vert Chart History: Bubbling Under Hot 100". Billboard. Retrieved April 6, 2022.
  31. ^ "Tyler, the Creator Chart History: Canadian Hot 100". Billboard. Retrieved April 5, 2022.
  32. ^ "NZ Hot Singles Chart". Recorded Music NZ. April 4, 2022. Retrieved April 2, 2022.
  33. ^ "Tyler, the Creator Chart History: Bubbling Under Hot 100". Billboard. Retrieved April 5, 2022.
  34. ^ "Tyler, the Creator Chart History: Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs". Billboard. Retrieved April 5, 2022.
  35. ^ "NIGO® Wins Fashion Designer of the Year Award! ── 2020 "GQ MEN OF THE YEAR 2020" announced!". GQ Japan. November 23, 2020. Retrieved November 23, 2020.

External links[edit]