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Kenzo appoints Nigo as Artistic Director

Tom Bottomley
15 September 2021

Veteran Japanese streetwear designer Nigo, who founded A Bathing Ape in 1993 and partnered with Pharrell Williams in 2005 to launch the Billionaire Boys Club and Ice Cream brands, has been appointed as Kenzo’s new Artistic Director.

The appointment, which commences on 20 September 2021, follows the June departure of Portuguese designer Felipe Oliveira Baptista, after just two years at Kenzo’s design helm.

Kenzo Takada, who launched Kenzo in 1970, passed away in Paris in October 2020 from COVID-19 complications.

The appointment announcement was made by Sidney Toledano, Chairman and CEO of the LVMH Fashion Group.

Toledano said: “The arrival of an extremely talented Japanese designer will allow us to write a new page in the history of the house that Kenzo founded.”

Nigo added: “I am proud to have been appointed Artistic Director of Kenzo. I was born in the year that Takada Kenzo san opened his first store in Paris. We both graduated from the same fashion school in Tokyo.

“In 1993, the year that Kenzo joined the LVMH Group, I started my career in fashion. Kenzo san’s approach to creating originality was through his understanding of many different cultures. It is also the essence of my own philosophy of creativity. Inheriting the spirit of Kenzo san’s craftsmanship to create a new Kenzo is the greatest challenge of my 30-year career.”

The 50 year-old designer, who also launched the Human Made brand in 2010, was born Tomoaki Nagao but chooses to use just one name, much like Kenzo’s founder.

It will be the first time a Japanese designer has taken the reigns of the Paris-based brand since Kenzo Takada resigned in 1999.

A Bathing Ape was sold to Hong Kong fashion conglomerate I.T Group in 2011 for approximately $2.8m, and Nigo left the brand in 2013. In 2014, he became the creative director of Uniqlo's UT brand.

In 2020, Nigo produced a very well received capsule collection with Virgil Abloh for Louis Vuitton.

Throughout his career, he has also been an established DJ and record producer, including as the DJ of Japanese hip hop group Teriyaki Boyz.

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