NEW YORK — It would seem a lot of people on hip-hop's A-list have a shoe fetish.
Pharrell Williams, Kanye West, Mos Def, the Roots' ?uestlove, Common, Faith Evans, Clipse's Pusha T, Spike Lee and a host of other tastemakers and fashionistas braved the cold and rain Monday night to celebrate the opening of A Bathing Ape in New York's Soho neighborhood.
Launched by Japanese designer Nigo in 1993, A Bathing Ape is known for its one-of-a-kind footwear — brightly colored patent leather sneakers that resemble Nike Air Force Ones. The brand also sells a host of other products, including T-shirts, outerwear and home goods. Nigo teamed with Pharrell last year to launch the super producer's own fashion lines, Ice Cream sneakers and Billionaire Boys Club clothing (see "Want To Dress Like A N.E.R.D.? Pharrell Signs Fashion Deal").
"I'm just very thankful to be in business with a guy like this," said Pharrell, who hosted the event. "Without him, my BBC dreams and my Ice Cream dreams — none of those dreams would have ever happened. I told him my ideas and he made those things happen much in the same way he did with his own clothing line, and that's why I'm here to totally support it. It's his thing — it's A Bathing Ape."
Guests were treated to the sounds of ?uestlove on the turntables as they checked out shoes in a variety of colors and patterns — all featuring the signature BAPE sneaker star — against the store's stark white background.
Mos Def said he's been a fan of the line for years. "I like the attention to detail they pay to their product, and their enthusiasm. I also like their cleverness and wittiness. I appreciate them as a design brand — not just what they do with fashion, but with a lot of different products including home goods and underwear.
"It's in the same tradition of Dapper Dan," he added, referring to the clothier to old-school rappers like Slick Rick and Dana Dane. "It's just revising something that is dominant in the culture and putting your own spin on it. It's very much in the spirit of what hip-hop is as a culture, so it definitely strikes a chord with us."
For Common, who said he didn't currently own a pair BAPE sneakers, the line is all about that next level of fashion.
"It's just real progressive and, in a way, it's that cutting edge, hip stuff," he gushed. "It's also a movement. I haven't been over to see all the stuff they have in Japan, but from what I have been told, Nigo and A Bathing Ape has a lot of different things that are good items to have — stores and everything. Also, what Pharrell is doing with Ice Cream, I've got to support that because he's always coming with something fresh, whether it's music, style or whatever. I'm going to get some free ones and I'm going to support."