issey miyake opens its london doors to a new generation of fans
Last night, Issey Miyake threw a party in honour of the brand’s slickly designed new flagship store on 10 Brook Street in Mayfair. Before the launch, i-D and the house’s creative director, Yoshiyuki Miyamae, talked shop and how a new, young generation...
London's new Issey Miyake store covers five thousand sq feet of 10 Brook Street and towers sixty feet into the rainy October sky. Thursday evening, Yoshiyuki Miyamae - the brand's womenswear designer - and interior designer Tokujin Yoshioka descended upon Mayfair to christen the new store at a painstakingly chic reception, reflecting the house's Tokyo-Parisian heritage all the way. "The structure of the shop couldn't necessarily have been created in Tokyo, so it's very London in terms of its combination between old and new, both the structure and the materials we've used," Yoshiyuki told i-D before the launch. "The building itself was an old bank, so we've kept the original structure, which Tokujin Yoshioka has then added to in terms of the technologies he's come up with. It's all about the harmony between contrasts."
A former Issey Miyake employee, Tokujin's unique understanding of the brand's philosophy made him the natural choice for designing the shop, which is the first space to stock the total spectrum of Issey Miyake collections in London. Keeping in line with the brand's uncompromising thirst for innovation and original design and manufacture, Tokujin had the store's blue aluminium panels produced in Germany, before each panel was anodised over a four-hour process by a specialist company in Switzerland. Every piece of furniture in the shop was designed by Tokujin, who also created the 'Brook Ottoman' especially for the space, which will eventually go into production courtesy of MOROSO. And because he could, he floored the place in a poured screed, with bespoke 2 mm layers of micro-top applied in six hand-finished coats. It's just how they roll at Issey Inc.
"We just play around with materials. We always start from scratch and we never source materials. Everything is made within the studio. It's more about innovation than trends," Yoshiyuki said, screening a video on his iPad of the five-floor Issey Miyake studio in Tokyo, which functions more like the fantastical lab of a genius scientist than a fashion atelier. For autumn/winter 14, Yoshiyuki and his team debuted their Steam Stretch invention, which has catapulted Issey Miyake's trademark pleats into a new hi-tech era. "I'd love to show you," Yoshiyuki said, and produced another slick video created to explain the ingenious process. It's something easier said than done - you pretty much have be a math professor to get it - but when it comes to the world of Issey Miyake, sometimes it's better to just enjoy the ride than trying to understand how it all came to be.
Figuring out how the current buzz around Issey Miyake suddenly materialised, however, only takes a look at the brand's current teams. For the past seasons, the house - founded in 1970 by Issey Miyake, who is still active in the company - has been headed up by two young designers and their equally young teams. On the men's side, Yusuke Takahashi has been adding his electrifying take on natural phenomena to the brand's signature hi-tech garments, while Yoshiyuki Miyamae has been continuing the Issey Miyake fabric evolution in his womenswear. "My team isn't huge - there are about ten of us - and they're all young; early-mid twenties," he said. "I never force them to think about how fashion can be combined with technology, because it comes quite naturally. I want the two sides of the brand to intermingle effortlessly, and I think having a young team, who are naturally very enthusiastic about both fashion and technology, creates the perfect balance."
For spring/summer 15, Yoshiyuki took his Steam Stretch technology to the next level, creating 3D Steam Stretch, a kind of geometrical origami fold that makes for a completely dynamic material. "The fabric has been programmed so that when the steam and the heat shrink it, it keeps that shape and it keeps that pattern. Stretch it and it'll bounce back; submerge it in water and nothing will happen," he explained. This is the kind of epic geekiness that has a new tribe of Issey Miyake fans buying Bao Bao bags and daubing themselves in the brand's incomparable L'Eau d'Issey fragrance like it was 95 all over again. The Homme Plissé line - a hyper-graphic little brother to the men's main collection - will be stocked at 10 Brook Street, and was created as an alternative for this new generation of male Issey Miyake followers, who had eventually started taking to wearing women's Pleats Please pieces because they couldn't get enough.
"Issey Miyake traditionally always had a very enthusiastic following, and they're still very much there, but there's a new mood of youth, which is garnering interest from a younger generation, who may not have heard about Issey Miyake before or worn it," Yoshiyuki said before his store launch. "Issey Miyake isn't inexpensive, which perhaps makes it less accessible to a young clientele, but that also means that wearing it means much more for the people who care about the brand. We're producing more accessories now, which have instantly caught on with the younger generations."
Issey Miyake 10 Brook Street opens tomorrow, Saturday 11 October 2014.
Text Anders Christian Madsen