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Let’s jump in.
Why did Nike wait so long to sue BAPE?
The writer continues: “I feel like they've been doing their thing for decades at this point. What's the point of coming down on them now? Especially with the brand literally all the way across the world in Japan.”
Let’s dig in. First, for everyone who isn’t aware, Nike is finally suing BAPE, as so many folks have been clamoring for years.
Most of you know what BAPE is, but if you don’t, it’s the Japanese streetwear brand created in 1993 by Nigo. Its cultural influence is undeniable.
The BAPE STA is the model in question. The silhouette first popped up in the mid-2000s and is a direct riff on the Air Force 1.
So finally after nearly two decades of BAPE and the BAPE STA, Nike has decided to sue. It’s claiming BAPE is capitalizing on the goodwill Nike has through the Air Force 1’s trade dress and causing “marketplace confusion.” Familiar, right?
So why now? There are a few answers to this. Nike laid some of them out in their formal complaint (which you can read here).
Why they didn’t sue before: Nike didn’t see BAPE as a threat initially, according to the lawsuit, despite the alleged infringement. The company’s marketshare in America through the mid-2000s wasn’t great and its biggest audience was in Asia.
In 2009, Nike says, it approached BAPE previously to talk about the company infringing on the AF1’s trade dress. They apparently came to an agreement.
The agreement was that if BAPE kept its business out of Nike’s market, there’s be no litigation.
BAPE even altered the BAPE STA so it didn’t look so much like the Air Force 1.
For a while, that worked. BAPE just wasn’t a worry. Basically, Nike was like “as long as you stay off of my block we’re cool.” BAPE just didn’t stay off the block.
Why they’re suing now: That changed.
Bape opened brick-and-mortar stores, began selling more BAPE STA’s and marketed as hard as ever in the U.S. starting around 2021, according to Nike.
Not only that, but they also added two new models that infringed upon both the Dunk and the Jordan 1 in the COURT STA and SKATE STA.
The rumors that Nike avoided BAPE because it was an overseas company were essentially true. But when it decided not to operate in the U.S. again, Nike decided to crash the party. It’s as simple as that. That’s why we’re here now.
Between the lines: I do think there’s something else to this. One of the main arguments folks with copycat designs have used is that Nike has allowed BAPE to get away with copying for so long. It’s been an annoying — yet sturdy — defense for years.
John Geiger and his legal team specifically used BAPE for their counterclaim against Nike.
It’s also something copycat design defenders have been using outside of legal settings for years. “Nike won’t come down on BAPE, so why should we care?”
The only way Nike could destroy that defense is by actually taking BAPE on and setting a precedent. That’s exactly what it’s doing here.
I don’t know how it’ll end. If I had to guess, I think the companies decide to settle out of court. But, man. This is really going to shake some things up moving forward.
The big question: Why won’t the big brands do just one unisex size run?
This is a great question. To say brands just haven’t taken women seriously when it comes to sneakers is an understatement. That negligence shows itself through sizing.
Most companies create men’s size runs of sneakers by default. That leaves women stuck in a situation where they’re forced to wear men’s sizes that don’t naturally fit.
In some cases, they won’t make women’s sizes at all in certain silhouettes. They’ll also do the whole pink it and shrink it thing, which obviously sucks. That’s started to change more and more over the years, but it’s still an issue that persists.
This is why unisex sizing would be perfect. Imagine a world where — no matter the sneaker — you know your size and exactly how it fits. We need that. But the question is why hasn’t a brand done it yet?
The answer: It’s not as easy to do as it sounds. Unisex is a very difficult thing to get right because you’ve got to build sneakers that account for so many different shapes and body types through both width and length sizing.
As the great Elizabeth Semmelhack — curator and director of Toronto’s Bata Shoe Museum — once explained to me, to build the perfect unisex shoe isn’t just to extend the sizing. A woman’s foot isn’t just a scaled-down version of a man’s foot. There are differences in the build. The molds used must also adjust for those different widths and arches mentioned above.
But!: That’s not to say it’s impossible or even that it shouldn’t be something that has been done by now. This should absolutely be a thing today. It just takes more effort, more time and costs a bit more which is why we don’t see it.
And, honestly, that’s a shame.
I'd love to see Nike tap more into City Editions of a sneaker like the Dunk
The writer continues, “Especially off the success of the Montreal Bagel Dunks!” I think this is a great call.
It’s kind of something Nike already does when you think about it.
We had the MLB SB Dunk pack last year, for example, with the Mets, Dodgers and Phillies.
The Puerto Rico Air Force 1 was almost a thing, too. They just messed the tongue up.
Or how about the Little Accra Air Force 1 celebrating New York’s Ghanaian community?
On the other hand: The problem is it’s always the same places. LA. New York. Chicago. That’s mostly all we see from these projects. That’s part of what made the Montreal Bagel Dunk so refreshing. It paid homage to a place we’re not exactly accustomed to.
As someone who has never been to Montreal — or Canada, for that matter — learning that Montreal is a hub for bagels was pretty cool.
Sneaker culture lives everywhere: I’d love to see more sneakers paying homage to locations folks are unfamiliar with. Where’s the DC Foamposite, for example? The Cheese Curd Milwaukee Dunk? Well, I don’t know how that would work. But you get the point.
The more obscure the location, the more unique the shoe. More of that, please.
How many pairs have you purchased in 2023?
The writer continues “And what has been your favorite pickup so far for the year?”
I’ve gotten 3 pairs so far this year, which is definitely way over the pace that I want to be at this point. I will say, though, they’re really good gets.
The list so far:
The Refined Future 1906r in the “Reflective” colorway
New Balance 990v6 in OG grey colorway
The Saucony x Bodega Grid 3000
I hadn’t thought about it but I haven’t purchased a pair of Nike’s this year, which is odd considering it was most of my purchases last year. But I did say I wanted to continue to diversify my collection, and I would say I’m off to a pretty good start. Maybe that’s a good thing.
Some of those Vomeros and these Air Maxes are tempting, though. So this probably won’t last.
Y’ALL KNOW THE VIBRATIONS! LET’S GET IT!
My dog Matt popped out in these gorgeous AM1s. This is such a special shoe, man.
The homie Brad popped out in these dope AJ3s just chilling in the crib. You love to see it.
The homie Killa Kow doubled up with the Montreal Bagel joints along with these GORGEOUS AM 95s.
The homie Dellan popped out with the 9060s and you can absolutely never go wrong with these joints, man. She’s ROCKIN em.
My guy Phil came through in the Asics Gel-NYC and I NEED EM. DASSIT.
My boy Sumeet popped out in the Montreal Bagel joints and, yeah, I might have to slide on these.
The homie Ryan popped out in the Halloween Dunks and these joints are SICK.
Then the homie Rick Dubb took us home with the Kobe love. RIP Bean forever.
Y’all SMOKED it.
Thank you so much for rocking with me! Appreciate y’all, fam. You’re the best. Have a fantastic weekend.
Let’s chat again on Monday. Until then. Peace and love. Be easy, be safe, be kind. And we out.