Perhaps inspired by the success of Marc Jacobs’ Heaven or Coach’s Gen Z-approved rebrand, BAPE is relaunching APEE, its first young women’s collection initially introduced in 2006 by founder Nigo. Promising a new “sweet yet sexy style,” the line hopes to provide girls the freedom to express themselves through branded clothing.
Heart-shaped graphics, camouflage prints, and leopard patterns all intertwine with BAPE’s iconic design language on cropped silhouettes, making the collection a trend overload. While there’s nothing wrong with a girly design, many of APEE’s pieces look like ones sold at PacSun — covered in BAPE’s APE motif.
Flop era — BAPE has the power to create noteworthy designs appealing to young women — the brand has created such pieces before via a Coach collaboration — but APEE’s relaunch seems like more of a cash grab than anything else. Filled with mini skirts, cheetah print, and ringer tees, the women’s offerings blend in with all the other labels pushing crop tops at the young generation.
APEE’s return presented BAPE with an opportunity to introduce itself to Gen Z, most of whom have no idea what impact the Japanese streetwear brand had on ‘90s and ‘00s fashion. But by treating the reborn label as a trend-follower and not a trend-starter, BAPE has lost out on Zoomer’s online influence — and more importantly, their disposable income.
There’s hope for the future — Yet APEE has sprinkled in a few original designs that may appeal to older Gen Zers or millennials familiar with the streetwear brand. Denim purses, decorated with heart motifs and APE logos, play into grungy ‘90s aesthetics while plaid APE-branded cardigans put a streetwear twist on Clueless-esque fashion.
It’s not all bad.
The reborn brand’s adoption of a theme — “WILD LOVE,” a press release explains — also helps bring depth to the otherwise trivial collection. APEE’s pink, blue, and purple color palette is intended to represent its extreme sweetness, pleasant clarity, and charming atmosphere, according to the brand.
Utilizing such traits more may have aligned APEE with its demographic of young women seeking styles they can make their own. Versatility and originality are key for the label moving forward.
As for APEE’s first capsule — debuting in BAPE stores on July 26 — consumers may be left fighting over the few cool pieces in the collection.