Bape Vs. Stussy: Streetwear Case Study

Bape Vs. Stussy: Streetwear Case Study

Introduction

Following a global pandemic, it seems that a more diverse population will change the world. This population has become engulfed with the idea of lifestyle brands. What is a lifestyle brand? Beyond its name, it is a brand that embodies the interests, attitudes, emotions, values, opinions, and aspirations of a group or a culture by incorporating these factors into its products. A lifestyle brand truly allows the customer to express themself through their clothes. These brands work to inspire, guide, and motivate people, with hopes of contributing to the overall wellbeing of their consumers. 

Two Brands That Will Change Your Lifestyle

If you are familiar with brands such as Supreme and OFF-White, you may or may not have heard of BAPE and Stüssy.  In this article, I will introduce both brands and provide you some insight into the lifestyle-streetwear realm of fashion. 

What will be discussed:

  1. Who is BAPE
  2. Who is STUSSY
  3. Brand Support and Recognition
  4. Performance in the Lifestyle-Streetwear sector of fashion
  5. How do BAPE and STUSSY rank?
  6. Competitors Collab

Who is BAPE? 

BAPE, short for its full name, A Bathing Ape, is a Japanese brand. The name of the brand has two meanings. The acronym for starters really stands for A Bathing Ape in lukewarm water. This comes from a reference to the classic movie “Planet of the Apes.” The second meaning of the name is taken from Japanese culture. It alludes to a bathing method that involves bathing in water that is heated to 104 degrees Fahrenheit. While sitting in the water for an extended period of time, it cools to a lukewarm temperature. This indicates a form of overindulgence and laziness, mainly targeting Japanese youths who have grown lazy and tend to overindulge in luxury items. Therefore making them the perfect target market. BAPE was originally known for offering quality streetwear for men only.  As times have changed, the brand has expanded and now offers women’s and children’s lifestyles and streetwear. To date, A Bathing Ape has more than 30 stores globally, with locations in China, France, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, the U.K., and the U.S. It is well-known for its original patterns, characters, and iconic designs. Their brand recognition has been credited with creating characters such as APE HEAD, BAPE STA, BAPE CAMO, BABY MILO, SHARK HOODIE, and more.

 Who is Stüssy?

Stüssy is an American clothing brand that started in the ’80s. Stüssy made a name for themself by introducing surf-wear trends originating in Orange County, California. The signature logo on the menswear and surfboards is what made the brand unique and quite popular.  Since then, recent generations have adopted the brand and incorporated them into the skateboard and hip-hop scenes. Though this brand had its origins in California, now it has expanded its reach across various parts of the globe. Stussy’s head designer Nick Bower worked at Valentino, Versace before coming to California in 1985.

Brand Support and Recognition

BAPE

Who was the first rapper to wear Bape? These are questions on every hype beast’s mind.  As it turns out, it was actually Biggie. Pharrell Williams increased BAPE to the United States Nigo and Pharrell Williams became friends and the two collaborated to introduce the brand to the United States. With Pharrell backing the brand, it became a thing in the hip-hop scene. BAPE has also created successful collaborations with established International brands and reputable artists including Soulja Boy. BAPE has introduced collaborations that have attracted the attention of the new generation because these collabs are recognized as being genre-less and flexible, not limited to fashion and apparel categories only. The Bape location SOHO, New York City, is protected by security and tends to have a line wrapped around it. As I started to show interest in these streetwear/lifestyle brands about five years ago I found myself waiting multiple hours on the sidewalk just to enter the store. The world has its eyes on A BATHING APE® and there is no stopping it.

Soulja Boy wearing his BAPE Color Camo Shark Full Zip Hoodie, currently being sold on StockX for $862 USD

Stüssy

Stüssy celebrated its 40th-anniversary last year, making it something like streetwear’s first heritage brand. After more than forty years in the industry, over the past five years, Stüssy has returned to the position of a cultural powerhouse. The brand has made its way to Europe and like BAPE is embraced by the hip-hop community. Stüssy now has stockists throughout the U.S., Europe, Australia, and Japan. It once again makes some of the most enticing clothes in fashion—collaborating with everyone from Marc Jacobs to Comme des Garcons to Martine Rose, making Loro Piana suits with Matthew Williams, showing up on supermodels in magazine photoshoots. Celebrities like Zendaya, A$AP Rocky, Lil Xan, Kendall Jenner, and Louis Tomlinson have all been seen supporting Stüssy. As a lifestyle brand Stüssy is on the up and up styling many different walks of life.

Kendall Jenner sporting her Stussy x Cactus Plant Flea Market USA Tee, currently selling on GOAT for $250 USD 

Performance in the Lifestyle-Streetwear Sector of Fashion

Stussy

In comparison to the big names like Supreme and OFF-WHITE, Stussy has an advantage because of its more appealing and attention-catching designs. Not to mention that Stussy is also comparatively cheaper and easily available in almost all designs. Stussy is preferred by people who like detail-oriented designs. Meanwhile, Supreme’s ability to stay ahead of the fashion curve is preferred by some consumers because Supreme continues to create products that define fashion. From what I have gathered through my research, it seems that innovation is the strong suit of both these brands. Stussy combines yesterday with today in creating designs of tomorrow. Conversely, Supreme’s popularity stems from its originality. Although original, Supreme is more simple and straightforward. This action plan targets a niche group of lifestyle streetwear consumers. Supreme also has the “exclusive” and “limited edition” lines that attract consumers. Don’t be fooled though, rumor has it that the groundwork for Supreme was laid by Stussy’s early innovations!

BAPE

The top five brands that consumers ranked as most emblematic of streetwear, such as Supreme, Nike, and BAPE, have been serving the streetwear community for decades. The only outlier is Off-White, which launched in 2012.  BAPE, compared to its largest competitor Supreme, still performs very well in this market. The main difference between these two brands is that they are inspired by different cultures and lifestyles. BAPE, inspired by Japanese culture and lifestyle, while Supreme is an all-American brand inspired by European culture and lifestyle. As mentioned previously, BAPE is mostly influenced by hip-hop culture while Supreme is most influenced by skateboarding culture. However, as they have grown, they are now also influenced by punk rock and hip-hop culture. It is for this reason that the two brands can only be partially compared as they target different lifestyles and attitudes.

How do BAPE and Stussy rank?

According to an article published by FASHIONBEANS, these are the “THE BEST STREETWEAR BRANDS IN THE WORLD TODAY” (March 2021):

(I have only decided to include the Top 5 Brands in support of my work)

  1. SUPREME
  2. STUSSY
  3. A-COLD-WALL
  4. BAPE
  5. OFF-WHITE

You can find the link to this article here.

Another article published by RollingStone (March 2021) titled “The Best Streetwear Brands to Shop Right Now” ranks popular 10 streetwear brands in this order:

  1. Supreme
  2. Palace
  3. Off-White
  4. Noah
  5. Carhartt
  6. BAPE
  7. Aimé Leon Dore
  8. Stüssy
  9. Nike
  10.  Heron Preston

Here you will find the link to the article here.

Takeaways

So what does this data tell me? According to consumers, in five months, both Stussy and Bape are on the up and up in the lifestyle-streetwear industry. 

Competitors Collab?

It might come as a complete surprise that these competitors (BAPE and STUSSY) have actually collaborated on collections before. They presented “Ill Collaboration”, which introduced a large range of apparel and accessories in celebration of A Bathing Ape and its 20th anniversary. This partnership between the two brands follows the first capsule collection released in 2010. “Ill Collaboration” was inspired by vintage desert camouflage patterns creating a 90’s military vibe with classic iconography from both Stüssy and Bape. The photo below clearly depicts the camouflage side of fashion coming from BAPE yet still a Stussy logo on the front of a black tee.

Conclusion

BAPE and Stussy are both taking over the lifestyle-streetwear world. Both with quite different approaches, designs, and support, they have both managed to dominate a market such as this one all while competing with larger brands including supreme and off-white. It can be concluded that these brands have a very large impact on the fashion culture and the ever-changing trends being introduced by today’s diverse generation. With the information presented in this piece, I hope that I have provided you more insight on these brands and how very different business plans can indeed both succeed. If you hadn’t been introduced to BAPE or Stussy before finding your way here, then I suggest trying all of these brands to find a lifestyle-streetwear brand that adheres to your culture, beliefs, identity, style, interests, and attitude. That is the goal of these brands anyway. Make sure you find one that truly STYLES your LIFE. Fashion is indeed one of the greatest ways to express yourself.

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Bape Vs. Stussy: Streetwear Case Study In this post, we're comparing and contrasting two iconic streetwear brands to see how the brands compete and influence each other.
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Sources and Further Research

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