If we think of the concept that lays behind the creativity of Issey Miyake the brand, it’s not possible to not bear in mind the word innovation. Since the beginnings of the Miyake Design Studio in the seventies, the experimentation and the constant research, in terms of shapes, fabrics and volumes were absolutely some of the key concepts of this brand. Recently, after 40 years as a pioneer in fashion, Mr. Issey Miyake has handed over the reins of his women’s collections in Spring/Summer 2012. After him, Mr. Yoshiyuki Miyamae was appointed as new designer, after 10 years of work at Miyake Design Studio.
Miyamae San, just as his previous maestro did before him, is working to continue the important tradition of innovation of the brand, with great projects as the 3D Steam Tecnique and the A-POC. After winning the Prize for Innovation in Athens, Yoshiyuki Miyamae explained to Metal Magazine why the future of fashion is more close that what we think.
This month you received a special prize in Athens, the Prize for Innovation. Can you tell us a bit more about this experience? How did you feel when you won?
It is extremely rare that, in the fashion world, technology becomes the focus of attention. I was tremendously encouraged to be evaluated for having continued to create work for Issey Miyake and for developing various techniques and technologies. This has led to confidence in the work we have been doing.
We live in an epoch in which a lot of people think that everything was already invented in fashion, and that nowadays there are just different interpretations of fashion. This prize probably demonstrates that this is not true. Which is your concept of innovation?
It is difficult to create something entirely from scratch. But I find possibilities in the innovation of linking two different points, such as technology and people, and tradition and technology. I feel that the role of a designer, and his or her job, is to connect all sorts of things while looking closely at the age in which we live.
Can you explain a bit the concept of the 3D Steam Stretch technique? How was the experience of developing this idea?
While doing an endless series of trial and error, and while creating a stretch material, an idea suddenly flashed: that I may be able to make pleats, using the weaving technique. 3D Steam Stretch harnesses and melds two existing techniques of PLEATS and A-POC that are a part of the DNA of Issey Miyake to create something unprecedented.
The shared innovation and uniqueness of those techniques are major features of Steam Stretch, which uses steam heat to shrink cloth into shape. Using a stretch yarn on both the warp and the weft gives the garments 360-degree stretchability, and provides room for weaving techniques that create never-before-seen pleat designs with incredible three-dimensional contours. The development of this new technology is not just about the ability to create three-dimensional shapes only from a single piece of cloth without any sewing; it promises a future of unlimited potential for making clothes.
Which are the countries that nowadays are more interested in fashion innovation?
Japan is one of the countries where all sorts of companies are studying all sorts of things.I don’t know how their technologies will link to fashion, but I do feel that there is potential here.
Are there any other new technologies that you're experimenting with?
3D Steam Stretch still has some problems to be resolved, so we will continue our research. Something new may be created as a result of this, as a digression.
Are you interested in 3D printing? Have you experimented with it at Issey Miyake already?
Yes. I have been doing research, but have not yet reached the stage where I could use it in everyday life. I’m sure that something interesting in terms of shape and form will be created in the near future, but I’ll wait until something that is usable in daily life comes up.
You have been working at the studio with Issey Miyake for ten years, and you are now the creative director for womenswear since Spring Summer 2012. How did you feel when you were nominated the task? And how do you feel now? What have been the major changes in these two years of experience?
I feel a sense of responsibility for Issey Miyake’s history that spans more than 40 years. Each time we do a collection my responsibility becomes heavier. Considering both business and developing new things, or creation, is a tremendous task. My biggest driving force is my wish to meet Miyake’s expectations.
Speaking about the 3D Steam Stretch technique. It has a very strong visual connection with origami. What importance does the Japanese tradition have for you in your daily work?
By confronting nature, which is an element common to Japanese foods, Japanese paintings and Japanese architecture, we strive to enhance the outstanding quality of the materials used, and to scrape off extras from items to make them simpler. I feel that these processes have things in common with our culture and sets of values.
For western society Japan is such a great source of inspirations. You, as a Japanese, how do you see your country? How would you describe your country?
Japan has simplistic beauty, functional beauty and historic culture on the one hand, which are mixed with music, foods and items from all over the world. Young people actively take in things that interest them, so I think that Japan is a country where the new is mixed with the old.
One of the most important parts of your work is research. Which are the positive aspects of it, and which are the negative ones?
What I’ve learned from Miyake is to continue to take up challenges. Of course, we have made numerous failures, and carry lots of risks, but even things that appear to be negative when they are looked at as “points”, all eventually turn positive if we think of them in the long term. So I guess that depending on how we see this, research will become a positive aspect for us.