Top 10 apes in Vintage, bringing serious monkey business to your wardrobe!

Growing up in the 80's, I, like many others, was a huge fan of Planet of the Apes and other sci-fi franchises, such as Star Wars and Dune. Ever since primates have always had a special place in my heart, from King Kong to Congo. This love for apes has even extended into my fashion choices, as streetwear has been heavily influenced by these creatures for decades with T-shirt graphics, company logos, and marketing materials all featuring them. However, this obsession is not just limited to me - Looks like Charlton Heston and James Franco weren’t the only dudes catching feels for monkeys. For instance, iconic store X-Large was opened in 1991 by Eli Bonerz and Adam Silverman in LA, known for its California workwear and connection to the Beastie Boys. Their “OG Gorilla” became emblematic of not just the local Streetwear brand, but a vibrant period of ’90s West Coast street culture.  

Paul Frank used to be cool and unique, but now they just sell baby underwear and went through a messy divorce. The brand's founder, Paul Frank Sunich, started out in his garage making accessories and grew into a clothing mogul, surrounded by young admirers. Their signature character, Julius the Monkey, was all the rage in the pre-millenial era and could be found on everything from hoodies to surf shorts. Unfortunately, Sunich was eventually kicked out of his own company. His latest venture, Park La Fun, continues his original idea of handmade items featuring adorable animals, but this time, no monkeys.

In the late '90s, the rise of the Internet, BET, and MTV TRL brought together pop, rap, and cash-is-king capitalism. While leaders like Tommy, Nautica, and Polo dominated Fifth Avenue, urban apparel brands exploded onto the scene through rappers. It seemed like every emcee was affiliated with a baggy brand, from Nas' Willie Esco to Wu Wear to Nelly's Vokal. They didn't even have to claim ownership - as long as there was an affiliation or endorsement. One prime example of this was the relatively unknown brand Drunknmunky, which shot to fame after Jay-Z gave it his stamp of approval in 2002. In his "Excuse Me Miss" music video with Pharrell, he boldly sported the logo on a black T-shirt - and the rest, as they say, is history.

If you ask me, one of the pioneers of Streetwear's obsession with apes has to be Erik Brunetti. From his love for the Planet of the Apes franchise to inspiring other designers (who shall remain nameless) following below, his influence is undeniable. And while they say it's not about being first but about being the best, in my opinion, Fuct nailed both.

The SSUR brand features a playful and quirky use of simian symbolism, from collectable busts to T-shirt designs. Founder Ruslan Karablin's rebellious "Rebel Ape" design, which combines the iconic image of Che Guevara with a mischievous primate, has become one of their most popular and memorable pieces. As the artist himself once said, "Now you little monkeys wanna be guerrillas!" This clever slogan perfectly captures the brand's playful and unconventional spirit.

Not exactly a clothing brand, but with the hardcore band's popular gorilla symbol, they've likely sold more shirts than many indie labels. Plus, the Gorilla Biscuits and hardcore scene have influenced some of the biggest names in Streetwear, like Benny Gold and Brooklyn Dom. Paul Frank even teamed up with them once.

In the world of graphic T-Shirts, T&C Surf was the first to bring a touch of monkey love to the scene. Their iconic, colorful tees featuring characters like Joe Cool, the Tiki guys, and Thrilla Gorilla (who we can never forget) made them a major hit in the 80's. Unfortunately, the rights to artist Steve Nazar's illustrations were lost in a legal battle, leaving the characters in limbo. However, they were briefly brought back to life in collaborations with Nazar and artist Dave Choe. Meanwhile, the brand Ben Davis has been a staple in workwear for everyday laborers with their durable clothing, featuring the iconic image of a no-nonsense gorilla on their label. And when it comes to elusive street artist Banksy, the closest we've come to revealing his identity is through a mask at rare public appearances.

Banksy took on the persona of a wide-eyed monkey underneath his customary black hooded sweatshirt. These playful primates are a common motif in the renowned street artist's pieces, particularly in his collection of sandwich boards.

Coming full circle we can not forget the famous Streetwear icon, the bathing ape, hails from the Japanese label BAPE. The brand's name is actually short for "A Bathing Ape in Lukewarm Water," a clever allusion to entitled and unambitious youth. BAPE's early designs were largely inspired by the science fiction classic Planet of the Apes, and one of their first representatives, musician Cornelius, borrowed his pseudonym from the movie's chimpanzee character.