Meet @YMBAPE, also known as “The Ape,” one of social media’s latest viral stars.
The Ape gained fame by bullying customers of the hip streetwear brand Supreme near its SOHO, New York flagship store.
He would yell, “Fuck Supreme,” through a Mike Tyson lisp, slamming Supreme hats, bags and sneakers to the floor and daring his frail hipster victims to retaliate. “I’m a Ape,” is another catchphrase, “Bangin’ on my chest!”
Supreme is the most infamous streetwear brand on the planet, thanks to a limited inventory and global reach, both of which help its products resell better than most illegal drugs. Like Apple iPhones and Air Jordan sneakers, Supreme merchandise carries a cult status that transcends the niche nature that is supposed to make streetwear cool. Anything bearing the brand’s red box logo could have a re-sale value of two-to-five-times its retail price and likely requires a wait time either online or in person to secure.
“Get off of work, I’m from this hood, too.” @YMBAPE
But Supreme also represents something that’s less cool. Appropriation. The sample-heavy, collage-style formula that helped birth Hip Hop music doesn’t always translate well in other media, or in the merchandise world. Critics of Supreme say the brand lacks creativity and survives by preying on smaller or older brands like vultures.
Despite Supreme’s current relevance, BAPE will always be its OG on the streetwear scene. The Japanese brand, founded by fashion visionary Nigo, has been photographed on everyone from The Notorious B.I.G. to Lil Wayne and Tyler, The Creator, peaking in the early 2000’s with its BAPESTA shoes, all-over print hoodies and co-sign from Pharrell. The Ape’s connection to BAPE isn’t clear, he could be an industry plant sent as guerilla marketing tool, or just an overzealous fan seeking his 15-seconds of viral fame.
Whatever his motivation is, The Ape says his goal is to wipe Supreme off the streets. But is his purpose deeper?
The Internet immediately responded to the Ape’s antics with love and adoration. Nobody likes a bully, but he appears to be a bully with a cause. He’s even earned a YouTube mini-doc titled “The Rise And Fall Of @YMBAPE.”
And his movement seems to be working. According to Complex, sales of Supreme are trending down this summer, with some buyers blaming The Ape’s intimidation tactics.
And it’s more than just memes, the Ape is getting fan mail and shoutouts from artists like A$AP Ferg.
The Ape was arrested last week outside of KITH in SOHO. It’s not clear what the charges are, but he was clowned mercilessly online for wearing Supreme boxers.
An old Instagram video actually gives The Ape a solid cop out for the boxers “Ya wonder why I wear these boxers… ask @SupremeNewYork why they on my dick & and why I keep shittin on em!”
According to his Instagram he’s free. But what will his legacy be? Is he a Robin Hood bully? Sent to check the hipsters who’ve migrated so comfortably into New York City protected by the cushions of gentrification? Or is he a fool, destined to OD on fame or catch long-term consequences of the physical confrontations he is provoking? Two recent scraps show the consequences he could face with more frequency if he doesn’t stop picking on hipsters.
So was The Ape was sent to give a gut check to the streetwear game? Is he a fashion terrorist? Or just the star of an elaborate viral joke? His story is still unfinished, but he’s made himself an Internet legend by taking on a giant.