Issey Miyake: textiles unpacked

Top by Issey Miyake.

Top by Issey Miyake.

You might think of Issey Miyake as the Steve Jobs or — if you’re thinking of the brand — the Apple of Japanese apparel and textiles design.

Unlike other designers, who build on the history of their field and the designers that have gone before them, Miyake approaches clothing and textiles completely afresh. The question for Miyake, is ‘what should the garment do’? Or, in essence, ‘what is a garment’?

Although he once said that he wanted his pleated clothing line — “Pleats Please” — to become an everyday classic like blue jeans, Miyake rethinks not just how clothing is worn, but the nature of their construction. Many of his earlier collections, in particular, drew from origami, and used folds and angularity to create more three-dimensional clothing.


Print by Makiko Minagawa for Issey Miyake.

While Miyake’s earlier work focussed on construction and the fusion of different fabrics in single garments, over the last decade or so Miyake has shifted toward print and color in conjunction with pleating; working with textiles designers such as Makiko Minagawa, who created the well-known “Tattoo” Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin print.


Pleats Please tee-shirt.

From traditional florals — used with non-traditional fabrics — to geometrics, placed-photographic and tattoo-inspired prints, Miyake has taken textile print from the level of the decorative to becoming an integral part of the clothing, by merging it with intricately structured and textured fabric that changes with the movement of the body.

You can find out more about Miyake here.

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