Issey Miyake

Emily M. Orr

Designer Biography

DOI: 10.5040/9781474260428-FPA382

Issey Miyake, spring/summer 1994. Niall McInerney, Photographer © Bloomsbury Publishing Plc

Born in 1938 in Hiroshima, Japan, Miyake studied graphic design at Tama Art University before leaving in 1964 to study in Paris at the École de la Chambre Syndicale de la Couture Parisienne. In 1966 he began work in haute couture for Guy Laroche and then moved to Hubert de Givenchy in 1968. In 1969 he traveled to New York, where he worked as a ready-to-wear designer for Geoffrey Beene. In 1970 he returned to Japan to found the Miyake Design Studio. He presented his first collection in New York in 1971, followed by his first collection in Paris in 1973.

The first Issey Miyake store opened in 1974 in Tokyo, followed by a store in Paris in 1975. In 1978 Miyake showed his first menswear collection and in 1979, he opened a flagship store on Rue Saint Germain in Paris. Miyake’s silhouettes, construction techniques, and materials have their roots in traditional Japanese design and clothing such as samurai armor, peasant dress, and origami, while his style also resonates with a contemporary urban lifestyle. Miyake favors loose layers that can be customized by the wearer and worn in a variety of ways. His color palate is often neutral and solid, while prints are typically inspired by the East.

In 1986 Miyake met Irving Penn, who then photographed Miyake’s advertising campaigns over the next thirteen years. In 1987 Miyake opened a flagship store on Madison Avenue in New York. In 1993 he launched his Pleats Please line of fully pleated garments in polyester jersey, which are still in production and in great demand in the early twenty-first century. Miyake reversed the typical pleating process and pleated the clothing after, rather than before, the cut-and-sew phase, producing garments that permanently hold their pleats. In 2000 he launched A-POC (A Piece of Cloth), which combined computer technology with traditional knitting methods. The garments arrive as a knit tube and the wearer cuts out the desired clothing shapes from the tube, therefore customizing the look and becoming the designer herself. With this line, Miyake was also embracing the concept of a flat garment that forms the traditional structural basis of Japanese clothing.

In 1999, Issey Miyake handed over the design of his ready-to-wear lines to Naoki Takizawa. His other lines include Haat, a women’s ready-to-wear collection launched in 2000; followed by Cauliflower, a one-size-fits-all T-shirt line begun in 2001; Issey Miyake Fête, a colorful women’s line introduced in 2002; and Bao Bao accessories, established in 2010. In 2007 Dai Fujiwara became creative director, who was succeeded by Yoshiyuki Miyame in 2011.

References and Further Reading

Issey Miyake. Web site. (accessed 27 October 2017).

Find in Library Miyake Issei, Kazuko Sato, Raymond Meier, and Hervé Chandès. Issey Miyake Making Things. Paris: Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain, 1999.

Find in Library Penn Irving. Irving Penn Regards the Work of Issey Miyake: Photographs 1975–1998. London: Jonathan Cape, 1999.

Find in Library Fukai Akiko, Catherine Ince, and Rie Nii. Future Beauty: 30 Years of Japanese Fashion. London: Merrell Publishers, 2013.

Find in Library Kawamura Yuniya. The Japanese Revolution in Paris Fashion. Oxford: Berg, 2004.