LVMH-owned Kenzo today (September 14, 2021) announced the appointment of Nigo (real name Tomoaki Nagao) as artistic director. Nigo will be taking on the role previously held by Felipe Oliviera de Batistsa who exited the brand after after a two year tenure.
Notably, Nigo will be the brand’s first artistic director of Japanese origin since 1999 when founder Takada Kenzo stepped down from the brand. Prior to Oliviera de Batista, the brand was headed by Opening Ceremony founders Humberto Leon and Carol Lim, who lead creative direction at the brand from 2011 through 2019. LVMH acquired Kenzo in 1993 for about $80 million.
Commenting on the event, Nigo stated in press, “I am proud to have been appointed artistic director of Kenzo. 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. Inheriting the spirit of Kenzo san’s craftsmanship to create a new Kenzo is the greatest challenge of my 30-year career, which I intend to achieve together with the team. Finally, I would like to thank Bernard Arnault and Sidney Toledano for giving me this wonderful opportunity”
Nigo is best known as the founder of influential streetwear label A Bathing Ape, a brand in founded in Tokyo in 1993. With the brand under financial duress, he sold the brand in 2011 for $2.8 million to I.T. Group, a Hong Kong fashion conglomerate. He also co-founded Billionaire Boys Club and Ice Cream footwear with Pharrell Williams.
In addition to his new role at Kenzo, Nigo will continue to oversee Human Made, a brand he founded in 2020. It’s not clear if Nigo will retain his role as creative director of UNIQLO‘s UT brand.