Nigo Appointed KENZO’s Creative Director | Is this a match made in heaven?

With the announcement of Nigo’s appointment as creative director flooding our feeds, you can’t help but feel the buzz that this is the start of a new era for Kenzo. Known and respected as a streetwear guru with decades of success with numerous labels, you’d be pushed to find a more fitting replacement.

Founded in 1970s Paris by Japanese designer Kenzo Takada, KENZO became known as the label that fused Japanese style with European design, craft and construction.


With Nigo dropping the no brainer bombshell this week on his Instagram with the caption; ‘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.’ it resonates with the obvious similarities between Nigo and Kenzo’s founder Takada Kenzo. Takada through the 80s and 90s elevated his brand through promoting an east-meets-west aesthetic with bold colours and prints. Promoting his Japenense influences he paved the way for other designers, designers such as Nigo.

Born Tomoaki Nagao, Nigo’s career spans 30 years with forward-thinking creative leadership, cutting edge design and the ability to overall navigate and weather the industry storms. Known in his younger days for partying in Toyko clubs and being a wannabe Dj he attended Bunka Fashion College where he iconically said he learnt nothing. Originally launching A Bathing Ape (originally named A Bathing Ape in Lukewarm Water) in 1993 the brand referenced Japanese colloquialism and consumption-obsession Japan. BAPE saw huge successes with the likes of The Notorious B.I.G and Mo’Wax record label boss James Lavelle endorsing the brand. Cleverly streamlining the distribution to one store in Toyko and only fulfilling 10% of demand Nigo managed to maintain desirability for decades.

Pharrelll and Nigo


In 2003 Nigo launched Icecream and Billionaire Boys Club alongside Pharrell Williams and later launched Human Made in 2010 alongside sk8thing, both known for their luxury streetwear aesthetic. Managing to turn all brands into somewhat of a cult movement, his designs have always embraced colour and print, making them easily recognisable much like Kenzo clothing.

Moving away from the obvious comparisons between the Japanese designers, Nigos collaborations with household names such as Virgil Abloh and Kim Jones has cemented his love for collaboration and contact book connections. The announcement comes a few months after Nigos second collaboration with Abloh for Louis Vuitton menswear, which saw the refined form, kimono-inspired shirting and Japanese streetwear references.

Louis Vuitton Nigo Collection

@nigo Louis Vuitton

The overall consensus is pure excitement summed up with Pharrell’s comment ‘ASCEND! ASCEND! ASCEND!’. That with Nigo at the wheel, Kenzo has a chance to recapture its iconic persona; creating the buzz of Leon and Lim, but with a mature take Takada’s aesthetic. It will undoubtedly cater towards a younger, more streetwear-literate audience, but with Nigo’s personality it will give Kenzo the facelift it needs and once and for all say au revior to the tiger head.

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Written by Holly Thompson

Featured Image Credit – @nigo 

Sarah Atkinson

Sarah Atkinson

Writer and expert