Issey Miyake: A Tribute to a Fashion Icon

Issey Miyake, the Japanese artist, known for his precision pleats, avant-garde cutting techniques, and trademark perfumes, was one of the few designers whose name was associated with fashion innovation. On August 5th, in Tokyo, Miyake, 84-years-old, passed away after a battle with liver cancer.

While alive, Miyake’s fashion designs were lauded for their technological innovation and aesthetic merit. The characteristic pleating method he developed, which resembled origami, was as much a technical achievement as a fashion statement.

His approach to design was refreshingly egalitarian. For instance, he designed not only aesthetically pleasing pieces but also accessibility to a wide range of people, thanks to their reasonable prices, high levels of comfort, and high utility.

Miyake’s personal experiences indeed informed his naturally humanistic approach to design. Miyake prioritized creating work that was both accessible and inspiring.

A look at some of Miyake’s most well-known works:

  • Pleats Please

Miyake developed and patented a method of permanent micro-pleating in the 1980s that used a heat-treating technique to generate a one-of-a-kind and long-lasting appearance.

Instead of pleating the fabric, this laborious method included creating clothes twice the desired size, then folding them into paper using a heat press.

As a result of the overwhelming demand for the trendsetting design, the designer released an entire collection in 1993 titled Pleats Please.

  • Steve Jobs’ Black Turtleneck

The iconic black turtleneck worn by the late Steve Jobs with jeans has entered Silicon Valley lore, inspiring even the disgraced would-be tech magnate Elizabeth Holmes to adopt the look as a sartorial homage.

Miyake’s designs first sparked Jobs’ idea for a uniform. Steve Jobs personally asked Miyake to design an Apple jacket based on Sony’s notion of the uniform to foster team spirit and professionalism among employees. Famously, he opted for Miyake’s black turtleneck sweaters as his go-to attire.

  • The Bao Bao Bag

Miyake’s Bao Bao bag is a status symbol in a world full of them, but it also connotes intelligence, artistic ability, and creative inspiration to the wearer.

The bag was first introduced in 2000 under the name Bilbao, after the striking Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain, which Frank Gehry created. The bag, which got another title in 2010 as the Bao Bao, is now available in various forms, from totes to fanny packs.

Whatever the design, the Bao Bao is made from mesh fabric and interconnecting polyvinyl shapes to invoke geometric wonder, altering forms when the user fills the bag with their stuff.

Miyake Will Live on Forever

Issey Miyake’s contributions to the fashion industry are immense and leave a legacy that will continue for generations to come. His creative mind forged a new path in fashion that has forever changed the way in which the collective world views fashion.