Hailing from Hiroshima, Japan, Issey Miyake is a distinguished designer known for his
cutting-edge designs and technology driven clothes. Instead of studying fashion directly, Miyake chose to study Graphic Design at Tama Art University instead. After graduation, he travelled from Paris to New York, taking various apprenticeship jobs at fashion houses under the late Givenchy. After gaining knowledge on both manufacturing and tailoring, he then returned back to Japan to open his debut self-titled studio.

One of Issey Miyake’s earliest fascination is the Japanese kimono. The culturally important and significant garment shuns away from a form-fitting silhouette and instead focuses on the empty space between the fabrics and the body. The way it drapes on the body is key, as it toys with the ‘unoccupied space’ and in certain angles gives the illusion of the void being filled. With motion, the shape of the garment changes again, with the volume varying while still being adopted on the same body as before. The abstract manipulation of the volume in garments was further explored by him as shown in his later works.

In 1993, the iconic Pleats Please line was officially released. Although the pleating technique
was not an anomaly amongst the fashion-conscious by then, the 1993 launch helped to push the innovative method onto the average consumers’ plate. The idea of pleating by no means was a completely original design by Issey Miyake, who likely took nods from the handmade Fortuny Pleats in the 1920s. However, the technology driven technique helped to captivate audiences worldwide with its futuristic design process while referencing from the past. Pleating the garments required a special procedure that sees the fabric being heat pressed via a machinery to form the pleats, shrinking the original length by a third. The pleats holds its shape as part of the fabric’s ‘memory’, removing the need to re-pleat.

A plethora of staple garments such as shorts, pleated suits, pants, cardigans, and collared shirts were released and eventually received major commercial success. This led Issey Miyake to release other lines, such as the Bao Bao Issey Miyake line in 2010 that features modular clunky appliqué detailing that weighs down the interior fabric to deform to the wearer’s body. The Homme Plisse Issey Miyake line was also pushed out in 2013, ending the two decade long wait from the contemporary men’s fashion market who longed for a specialised pleats line for themselves.

Apart from those commercially successful endeavours, he embarked on a longtime collaboration with Tsumori Chisato, wherein 1977, they began working together on the “Issey Sports” line, later renamed I.S. Chisato Tsumori Designs. Though initially serving as functional and practical designs for everyday people at affordable price points, Issey Sports products have seen an immense underground resurgence in popularity. Most notably, the IS Sports line nylon and suede bomber jackets have come to the forefront of the archive fashion scene as an effortless and befitting staple piece.

Written by Alfred Bong

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