[Business] Exclusively underground
All this is very interesting, except for one thing - how in the name of God, did someone make a cool ape?
Its similar to the story about Bose, I wrote sometime back. Its all in the magic of marketing.
Nigo used to sell clothes out of a sack at parties. It then became an underground fad. That one line makes all the difference - "It then became an underground fad". Do we honestly believe that an ape motif touched something so primal in us humans, that it became the thing to have? Nope.
Start with a clique - a group closely connected together. It is very, very important that the clique be cool people. If you are so unlucky to have your clothes worn by nerds ( I wear that badge proudly), you're in deep shit. Typical target cliques would be underground DJ's, street racers, hot women (not joking).
Once the product is introduced into the target clique, maintain exclusivity by making your stuff available only be referral to existing customers. This preserves the illusion of the cool people (closer to the center of the clique) getting cool stuff before other people, lower down on the fashion hierarchy.
Nigo and his Bape stores, still maintain that aura of exclusivity. His stores are unmarked and he does'nt advertise. I dont believe there is even a website of Bape.
This turns several management guru's theory of business on its head (and it does the same to my degrees-of-freedom theory). A long time ago, I wrote about friction-less business, based on a story by Steve Brotman. The point being businesses succeed when they remove friction out of their systems - this includes being more easily accessible to customers.
That does'nt work for "street cred". Google itself (the original inspiration for Steve Brotman's story) seems to have realised that. Their Gmail launch was so exclusive and so underground that people were selling free email invites for 50 $ on ebay.
Sony is now taking on Apple. It is NetworkWalkman vs iPod. Will they learn from their compatriot and preserve the veneer of exclusivity?
Of course, writing good code and having impeccable quality always helps..but that's another story.