Designer 101: Issey Miyake!



“I want to forge ahead. I want to break the mold. I want to find out what clothing might be.”

Renowned as one of the true geniuses of the fashion world, Issey (Kazumaru) Miyake has been making waves in the industry for decades. Born in 1938 in Hiroshima city, Japan, Miyake grew up admiring the photography of Irving Penn and thumbing through his sister’s copies of Vogue.


“My generation in Japan lived in limbo. We were the first really raised with Hollywood movies and Hershey bars, the first who had to look in another direction for a new identity. We dreamed between two worlds.”

In 1945, the U.S. dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima – an event that took the lives of most of Miyake’s family except his mother, who was severely burned and died of complications three years later. Lucky to survive, Miyake developed a bone-marrow disease at the age of ten. Under these tragic circumstances, many would have shut down, but not Miyake. Despite his dark past, the raw creativity and sheer talent he possessed would inevitably surface later in his life through his body of work.

Miyake’s work in fashion began in 1963, when he graduated with a degree in graphic design from Tama Art University in Tokyo. In 1965, he moved to Paris and enrolled at the École de la Chambre Syndicale de la Couture Parisienne. It is here that he became captivated with the beauty and detail that is couture. Miyake was equally immersed in the pop culture and music revolution going on at the time in London. Any chance he got, he would escape Paris across the Channel, and fell under the spell of the Youthquake scene of King’s Road and became infatuated with boutiques such as Biba.


After receiving his diploma from the Chambre Syndicale in 1966, Miyake went on to work as a design assistant at Guy Laroche. In 1968, he began working for Givenchy, where he made sketches for couture clients. It was during this time that he witnessed the student and worker strikes in Paris. This experience made him resolve to pursue fashion design for the masses, rather than just for the elite (as the couture he was working on was).

“Clothes for everyone, not just a few.”


         He moved to New York in 1969 and designed for Geoffrey Beene, but a vigorous work and party life aggravated the symptoms of his osteomyelitis and left him with a limp. He returned to Tokyo in 1970 and founded the Miyake Design Studio. This also marked the beginning of a long-term collaboration with textile designer Makiko Minagawa. In the following decades, Minagawa would develop some of Miyake’s most interesting and conceptual textiles.

Throughout the seventies, he revived many traditional Japanese textiles, such as shijiraori (a cloth woven from discarded scraps) and sashiko (a quilted worker’s cotton). In the eighties, he turned to novel materials: plastic, paper, silicone, and cellophane. And in the nineties, he debuted two ranges that spoke to the need for, as he put it, “style based on life”: Pleats Please, followed by A-POC, a line of no-sew clothes made of knitted tubes of fabric that wearers cut and customize themselves. “I don’t believe in it,” he’s said of fashion. “I believe in a human being and a piece of cloth.”

“I want my clothes to be used by the person and never worn in a prescribed way . . . if someone only bought one thing from me and taught me a new way of wearing it, I would be happy.”


 Many of the pieces we carry in our store come from one of Miyake’s most beloved lines, Pleats Please, which was first launched in 1993. Like many of Miyake’s pieces, Pleats Please garments are designed to be functional in more ways than one. Made from single pieces of high quality 100% polyester fabric, the innovation behind Pleats Please is that clothes are first cut and sewn together two-and-a-half to three times larger than the finished garments. Individual pieces are then hand-fed into a heat press sandwiched between two sheets of paper. The garment then emerges with permanent pleats. This industrial process allows both texture and form to be created at the same time. Vertical, horizontal and zig-zag pleating is used to create varying effects and architectural shapes. The garments store easily, travel well, require no ironing, and can be washed and dried in minutes.

“Western clothes are cut and shaped with the body as the starting point. Japanese clothes start with the fabric.”


            All of Miyake’s experiments are linked by the use of cutting-edge, high-performance textiles and the reliance on the movement of the wearer to animate them. His clothing comes to life when worn in a way that few designers’ pieces do. This conceptual springboard is what leads admirers to speak of his work as art as much as fashion – and indeed, Miyake’s otherworldly ensembles have always been the calling card of a certain urbane and intellectually inclined free spirit.

Miyake has always gone his own way, a dream-weaving sojourner on the edge of the mainstream. In doing so, he was one of the pioneers who broke ground for subsequent generations of Japanese renegades that includes Rei Kawakubo, Yohji Yamamoto, Junya Watanabe, and Jun Takahashi. While he no longer designs the clothing lines that bear his name, Miyake will always be regarded as one of the great radicals of twentieth-century fashion.

“To me, design must get into real life. Otherwise, it’s just couture, it’s just extravaganza.” 

irving_penn_26 issey-miyake-1

5 Timeless Vintage Pieces for Guys

The vintage market is all about timeless-ness. The fact that these goods are still being sought 70, 60, 50 years later is a testament to the fact that these items will not be going out of style anytime soon.  To build a complete closet with all the classics that will get you through life, here is a list of 5 pieces to keep your eye out for.

1. Trialmaster Belstaff Jacket

Engineered originally for fisherman, waxed jackets have always been a classic for men. The fabric is tear and water resistant as well as helps to battle against wind and the elements. While there are many variations out there including early British military pieces by British Millerain Co and other heritage classics such as Barbour, the holy grail is the Trialmaster by Belstaff. Using the fabric now evolved for the motorcycle community, the jacket is equipped with everything a biker could need; cinched waist, cropped torso, high arm holes, 4 huge pockets and a throat latch.


Steve McQueen in the Belstaff Trialmaster

2. Schott Perfecto Leather Jacket

There’s just something about a leather jacket. Although leather was being used for accents and speciality items during the Edwardian period, the first modern day ‘Bombers’ were created for aviators and members of the military. After years of selling rain gear, Irving Schott designed the first motorcycle leather jacket in 1928 for a Harley Davidson store which was sold for $5.50. The jacket became synonymous with rebel culture, only to be exaggerated by Marlon Brando and James Dean during the 50s. Fast forward to now and every brand has their own version of the perfect moto jacket, but the Perfecto was the original….


The Ramones in Schott Perfectos

3. Vintage Rock T-Shirts

One of the newer pieces on the vintage must have for men’s list, the vintage rock t-shirt has become a staple in the States. After an influx of Rock N Roll shows starting in the 60s, bands would produce t-shirts for tours, albums and one-off parties and shows. These shirts were produced in limited quantities, thus can be very hard to find and are extremely valuable. If you haven’t been in to explore our vast collection, run, don’t walk. After all, we did literally write the book in Vintage Rock T-Shirts.

Rock T-Shirts

L: Adam Levine R: Andre 3000 in Vintage Rock T-Shirts from WGACA

4. Vintage Levi 501s

The mecca of all denim, the Levi’s 501. After having a customer ask for pants that wouldn’t fall apart during the California gold rush, tailor Jacob Davis made the first pair of jeans using Levi Strauss as his fabric supplier. By 1873 they had a U.S. Patent for the blue jean and by 1890, they had created the first 501. While the 501 has undergone many changes since it’s first version, the basics were always there; 5 pockets, button fly, pocket rivets, an identifying patch and Arcuate stitching. In 1936, Levi’s added the red tab to identify it from it’s competitors who had mimicked nearly all other aspects of the jeans. After the success of their blue jeans, the company added styles such as the 505 and 517, but the 501 will always be king.


Vintage Levi’s 501 on the street

5. The Perfect Leather Travel Bag

Nothing is quite as gratifying as traveling in style. One of the most coveted items in the vintage world is the perfect leather bag. From early military backpacks with leather accessories to the Louis Vuttion Keepall Bandouliere, there any many varieties and variations suitable to each type. One of our favorites here at WGACA is the the Hermes HAC travel bag, later to be cut down and renamed the Birkin after then CEO Jean-Louis Dumas sat next to the star on a plane who mentioned it impossible to find the perfect travel bag.


Vintage Hermes HAC Travel Bag


who wears short shorts: oyster magazine

Summer is here and it’s definitely getting muggy out there. What does that mean? Time to bust out those short shorts.

 Oyster Magazine SP14

We’ve obviously a huge fan here at WGACA. And we love when our favorite magazines agree. For Spring/Summer, Oyster Magazine cast Ines Rau, styled by Avena Gallagher, in our favorite pair, and that pair only.

Oyster Magazine SP14 1

Welcome to Summer!

Muse Moment: Cycling


 The World Cup may be taking over, but another sporting spectacle just started as well, the Tour de France. To honor the games, let’s take a look back at some of the chicest cycling we’ve seen over the years!


10 Iconic Beach Moments

Summer is upon us and the weekends are meant for beach trips and fun in the sand.


From Audrey to Farrah and Elizabeth to Madonna, take a look into 10 iconic beach moments from style icons of decades past!