Those who think fashion is for the young might want to reconsider. In the twilight of his career, Japanese fashion designer Issey Miyake, age 63, is poised to turn the fashion world on its collective head with an innovative new concept and a bold New York flagship.
Miyakes passion of the moment, A-POC refers, literally, to A Single Piece of Cloth. The idea is that a single piece of material can be used to create a number of clothing items-dresses, skirts, shirts, hats, purses, gloves, socks, wallets-with little material waste. Although simplistic in theory, the sophisticated process is dependent on cutting-edge advances in science and technology.
Miyake worked with textile engineer Dai Fujiwara and other design talents at the Miyake Design Studio in Tokyo to develop this new process of making clothes-encompassing everything from the generation of raw materials and the machines used to the delivery system and the fitting of the wearer. Computer-programmed machines allow patterns to be worked into the textiles, and a sophisticated system of links and holes between the two sides of the clothing “tube” allows the user to cut out seamless clothing in different variations. Because A-POC isnt limited by the properties of fabric, pattern and sewing technique, what emerges is a seamless continuum akin to the human form.
Miyake continues to differentiate himself from other clothing designers by seeking ways to interpret clothing as something other than haute couture. Although the idea took seed in the 1970s, A-POC has come to fruition in the 21st century as the perfect blend of human touch and machine-born technology. Moreover, the designers focus on creating thoughtful, meaningful clothing is a breath of fresh air in the oft-vapid fashion industry.
A-POC is a revolutionary idea: using complex technology to simplify fashion. Explain this process and its importance to you, both as a person and as a designer.
Your first collection in 1964 was titled “A Poem of Cloth & Stone.” In the 70s, you presented “A Piece of Cloth.” Now, youve unveiled A-POC. Youre obviously fascinated with simplicity of materials. Can you explain the root of that fascination and how that has evolved throughout your career?
In 1993, we came up with Pleats Please. The garment-pleating technique allows us to create many different forms and textures, all in one process. But we were looking for more, for another breakthrough in the ways of making things. We wanted to dramatically change the process. Today, A-POC respects that theres a fine balance between the value of the human touch and the abilities of technology to allow us to create more, with less waste. Finding that balance is where the joy of making clothes lies.
What spawned the idea for A-POC early in your career, and do you feel it has only now come to fruition, or is it merely a work in progress?
A-POC uses modern technology, but with a definitive nod toward environmentalism. How do you reconcile these two apparently disparate entities? Do you think technology is also organic? Is A-POC actually the perfect marriage between technology and nature?
Whats your ultimate hope with A-POC? Do you see it shaping fashion design in the 21st century? Will it continue to evolve? If so, how?
Is the world ready for A-POC?
In the last few years, youve turned over the design of your mens and womens collections to Takizawa Naoki. Is this move allowing you to embark on a new venture, perhaps away from fashion? Or is it simply time to let someone new take the label into the future?
Youve just opened a 15,000-square-foot store in New York. Whats your vision for this store?
How do you think your attitude about fashion has changed from the 1960s until the present?