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 traveled from Paris to New York, taking various apprenticeship jobs at fashion houses under the late Hubert de Givenchy. After gaining knowledge of manufacturing and tailoring, he returned to Japan to open his debut self-titled studio.

One of Issey Miyake’s earliest fascinations is the Japanese kimono. The culturally important garment shuns away from a form-fitting silhouette, and focuses on the space between the fabrics and the body. The way it drapes on the body is vital, as it toys with the ‘unoccupied space’ and, in certain angles, gives the illusion of the void being filled. With motion, the garment’s shape changes again, with the volume varying while still being adopted on the same body as before. The abstract manipulation of the garments’ volume 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 particular procedure that sees the fabric being heat pressed via machinery to form the pleats, shrinking the original length by a third. The pleats hold its shape as part of the fabric’s ‘memory’, removing the need to re-pleat.

Many staple garments such as shorts, pleated suits, pants, cardigans, and collared shirts were released and eventually received significant commercial success. This success led Issey Miyake to release other lines, such as the Bao Bao Issey Miyake line in 2010 that features clunky modular 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 specialized pleats line for themselves.

Apart from those commercially successful endeavors, 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 a massive underground resurgence. Most notably, the I.S. 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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