pioneering japanese fashion designer issey miyake dies at 84

pioneering japanese fashion designer issey miyake dies at 84

Issey Miyake: 1938 – 2022


Japanese fashion designer Issey Miyake has passed away at the age of 84. The pioneering designer and founder of the Miyake Design Studio and the Issey Miyake group, died of liver cancer on August 5, 2022 in a hospital in Tokyo, surrounded by close friends and collaborators. The news of his death were announced by his company members today, August 9, 2022.


Issey Miyake founded the Miyake Design Studio in 1970, and over the next 50 years revolutionized the fashion industry by producing groundbreaking creations aimed at meeting the needs of contemporary lifestyles. Marrying traditional craftsmanship with high-tech fashion techniques, Miyake introduced a series of innovative ideas, including his shape-shifting clothes and signature ‘garment pleating technique’.

pioneering japanese fashion designer issey miyake dies at 84
portrait of Issey Miyake, photo by Brigitte Lacombe





Issey Miyake (original name Miyake Kazumaru) was born on April 22, 1938, in Hiroshima, Japan, and studied graphic design at Tokyo’s Tama Art University. A year after his graduation in 1964, he moved to Paris and enrolled at the tailoring and dressmaking school École de la Chambre Syndicale de la Couture Parisienne. He then worked for French couturiers Guy Laroche and Hubert de Givenchy, as well as American designer Geoffrey Beene before launching his first fashion collection in New York in 1971. Under his eponymous brand, he began to show in Paris Fashion Week from Autumn/Winter 1973.


Never following trends, Miyake’s designs focused on the notion of ‘A Piece of Cloth’ throughout the years. According to the brand’s concept, he pursued ‘the body, the fabric covering it and a comfortable relationship between the two’ as a fundamental concept, both shocking and resonating with people the world over. He started experimenting with  pleating techniques in the 80s, and introduced his signature ‘garment pleating technique’ in the Issey Miyake line in the Spring/Summer 1989 collection. By 1994, the iconic pleats line became a brand of its own under the title ‘Pleats Please’. The trademarked technique involves a process where materials are developed from a single thread and pleats are added after sewing the clothes into shape, resulting in light and wrinkle-proof garments.

pioneering japanese fashion designer issey miyake dies at 84
the iconic pleating technique | image courtesy of Issey Miyake


As a company, Issey Miyake has grown to include a vast number of creative personnel and innovative new techniques, ‘but its core design style – creating clothes from original materials starting with the research of a single thread – has transcended generations.’ Besides the sought-after clothing garments of the eponymous collection, the company has expanded throughout the years, launching labels such as the Bao Bao Issey Miyake line of bags, which feature a radical triangle-based concept; A-POC ABLE ISSEY MIYAKE, that introduced a new form of clothing design in which the wearers partake; a watch collection – see a recent design by Naoto Fukasawa here; and the best-selling L’Eau D’Issey perfume, which was first launched in 1992. Miyake himself continued to work with his teams, giving birth to new creations and overseeing all collections under the different Issey Miyake labels. He also collaborated with design brands to produce unique home items, including the IN-EI lighting collection for Artemide and the ‘Collection for Everyday Rituals’ for Iittala.


On January 28, 2003, Issey Miyake contributed an article to Japanese newspaper The Asahi Shimbun Evening Edition titled ‘Time to Create a Design Museum’, which received many positive responses. This marked the starting point for the now well-known 21_21 DESIGN SIGHT museum (see all coverage by designboom here). Based on his desire to become deeply involved in the development of design culture and its ability to enrich lifestyles, Miyake also established the Miyake Issey Foundation in 2004. The foundation has a twofold mission: firstly, to establish an environment for studying, restoring, and storing historical Japanese artifacts and implement innovative projects and events that inspire and invigorate the community; and secondly, through the practical application of these endeavors, to develop a strong program of activities that will encourage international interaction and help develop the talent of tomorrow. The Miyake Issey Foundation has been closely involved with the 21_21 DESIGN SIGHT museum since the very beginning, while the designer himself had served as director until now, together with graphic designer Taku Satoh and product designer Naoto Fukasawa, and journalist Noriko Kawakami, who serves as associate director.


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pioneering japanese fashion designer issey miyake dies at 84
Miyake’s unique pleating technique crowned him the ‘prince of pleats’ | image courtesy of Issey Miyake


exhibition movie of the ‘MIYAKE ISSEY EXHIBITION: The Work of Miyake Issey’ | video produced by Takahisa Araki | courtesy of the Miyake Issey Foundation 

pioneering japanese fashion designer issey miyake dies at 84
Issey Miyake famously designed Apple founder Steve Jobs’s black turtlenecks, which became part of his daily uniform | photo by Tom Coates

pioneering japanese fashion designer issey miyake dies at 84
MIYAKE ISSEY EXHIBITION: The Work of Miyake Issey (2016) at the National Art Center, Tokyo | Section C: “A-POC” | Photo by Masaya Yoshimura


MIYAKE ISSEY EXHIBITION: The Work of Miyake Issey (2016) at the National Art Center, Tokyo | Section B: Exhibition Show, Grid Body Installation: Tokujin Yoshioka | Photo by Masaya Yoshimura

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