The BAPESTA: A Bathing Ape’s Cult Classic Shoe, 20 Years Later

August 28, 2020

The BAPESTA: A Bathing Ape’s Cult Classic Shoe, 20 Years Later

 

If there’s a footwear silhouette that symbolized A Bathing Ape the best, it would be the iconic BAPESTA. Since its introduction in 2000, the BAPESTA has served as an anchor among BAPE’s expansive range of streetwear essentials by encapsulating the brand’s most defining features on feet, whether it be familiar motifs, eye-catching colors, or its street-friendly styling. 

The BAPESTA takes heavy inspiration from the Nike Air Force 1, and it could even be said that this blatant homage, realized in patent leather, resonated well with sneakerhead. This, paired with its rarity outside of Japan, established the silhouette as one of BAPE’s most impactful items in its lineup.

Its star-shaped “STA” logo on the sides and wide variation of vibrant colorways have received nods from the likes of hip-hop elites Pharrell Williams and Jay Z. In 2007, Kanye West embarked on his first footwear collaboration with a BAPESTA silhouette featuring his iconic "Dropout Bear" design, creating what is arguably the most covetable BAPESTA pair in current history. These collaborations gave way for the BAPESTA to be introduced to the world, gradually becoming the classic silhouette it is today.

 

Shae Haley, Pharrell Williams, and Chad Hugo. Photo via Complex

 

Beyond its status among hip-hop circles, the BAPESTA has been a vehicle for BAPE to reflect and comment on popular culture. Iterations of the BAPESTA made in collaboration with Spongebob Squarepants, Marvel Comics, and Daft Punk, to name a few, illustrate both Nigo and BAPE's pop-inspired, cartoonish leanings without going off the mark.

 

Kanye West. Photo via Complex

As BAPE celebrates the BAPESTA's 20th anniversary this year, A Bathing Ape has been constantly releasing new versions of the silhouette, including exclusive models and never-before-seen collaborations. 20 years on, the BAPESTA still manages to surprise with constant reinventions and new offerings sought after by sneakerheads and hip-hop aficionados alike, and enjoyed the world over.