Words: Emilie von Unwerth

May 12 2016

For over 50 years, Japanese designer Issey Miyake has existed – and played a pivotal role – in the world of fashion. His techno-centric designs, which are sold under the eponymous label ISSEY MIYAKE first appeared at Bloomingdales in New York in the early ‘70s, and have been breaking ground ever since.

A Hiroshima native who has spent extensive time in Europe, Miyake’s focus is more design rather than fashion driven. He lived in Paris in the late-60s, and witnessed the May 1968 riots, which resulted in a want to make clothing for a broader range of people, not just those who could afford the haute couture designers for whom he’d been working.

In the 70s, Miyake designed a line of clothing that could be physically assembled and disassembled. In the 80s, he focused his energy on the meeting place between the body and the clothes that adorn it, and began working with fabrics other than cloth – plastic, paper and wire. For the 90s, he turned his eye toward crafting high-quality, easy to care for ready-to-wear lines. The 2000s saw Miyake concentrating on the The Miyake Issey Foundation and the Reality lab, who organizations that strive to both preserve the designs of the past and encourage technological advances. All the while he was designing clothing and accessories, dedicating more and more lines to specific purposes.

What we’re saying is, Issey Miyake is the coolest.

My design is no design

He looks for ways to incorporate new and innovative materials; he advances himself and his designs through research and experimentation; he is a truly revolutionary person, with a vision unlike any other designer.

There are currently 11 brands under the ISSEY MIYAKE, INC. umbrella, BAO BAO being one of the youngest. ”I expect the people who own my clothes to discover for themselves where and how to wear them. My design is no design,” said Miyake in a 1983 New York Times interview. Over 30 years later, this sentiment rings true.

BAO BAO, the accessories brand from ISSEY MIYAKE, INC., is a line of contemporary bags and pouches designed for both the playful and the bold.

The bags and pouches are crafted by fixing small triangles of multi-layer polyvinyl and jersey to mesh fabric. The result is a piece that lays completely flat when not in use, and transforms into an entirely unique form when carried. The way it sits will vary based on the contents of the handbag. The appearance of your BAO BAO bag is up to you.

Inspired by contemporary architecture, BAO BAO titled its flagship bag the BILBAO, paying homage to the design approach of architect Frank Owen Gehry, who explored the idea of shapes made by chance and by computer. Ghery adapted this concept into an actual building, the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain.

The bags themselves are lightweight, versatile and resilient pieces that are designed to be used. The Lucent makes use of larger triangular pieces, which highlight the dynamic changes of the bag expressions. The result is a more angular, dramatic piece.

The Prism is designed with many small triangles on mesh fabric – it with the Prism we truly see the bag change shape depending on what is placed inside.

BAO BAO ISSEY MIYAKE is truly a zenith of design, and showcases Miyake and his team’s innovative techniques.


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