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First Look: Inside Japanese streetwear brand Bape’s striking new Chicago flagship

Bape Chicago
Bape's new Chicago store. (Photo credit: Anthony Tahlier)

Bape (A Bathing Ape) has expanded its retail footprint with the opening of its fifth U.S. store. 

The Japanese streetwear fashion brand, which operates more than 40 stores globally, unveiled its first location in Chicago, a two-level, 5,000-sq.-ft. flagship on Oak Street. Inspired by a range of cultural influences from art institutions and luxury automotive design to futuristic films and virtual reality, the store is designed as “a modern tribute to the creativity, boldness and futuristic thinking of both the brand and the city,” the company said, and melds inspiration from both vintage and futuristic design elements.

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The front entrance features the signature Bape logo above a glossy two-story facade. Artwork from artists around the world, ranging from Indonesian contemporary artist Arkiv Vilmansa to graffiti artist Josh “Stash” Franklin, is displayed throughout the store.  

“Bape has always existed at the intersection of art, music, and fashion, and the Bape store Chicago is no exception,” said CEO Mahmoud el Salahy. “This location will be a gallery for expression, showcased through the product, the architecture, the artwork, and most importantly, the community that will bring our space to life. We believe that retail is about building destinations for changemakers, for relationships, and for co-creation.

As with the brand’s other retail locations, the flagship will offer a unique “Bape Store Chicago” camoflague capsule collection. Inspired by the bold red and blue colors featured on the Chicago city flag, the collection includes popular souvenirs and the brand’s signature tees, hoodies, crewnecks and accessories.

Bape was founded in Japan in 1993. In addition to the new Chicago outpost, the brand operates two stores in New York City, one in Los Angeles and one in Miami. Its line up of labels includes A Bathing Ape, AAPE, Baby Milo, BAPE Black, and Mr. Bathing Ape, which are sold in stores across Asia, North America and Europe. 

Beyond apparel, Bape has embraced lifestyle segments including art, furniture, toys and more.

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