There is a reason that Issey Miyake is revered as one of the most innovative brands on the planet. Not that we all don’t LOVE the digital printed sweatshirts from Givenchy and Balenciaga (cuz we do), but what Miyake plops out on the market is something totally new altogether. And now he has a three-room massive shop for his most innovative brands all under one roof. It is a veritable PLAYGROUND of innovation.
It’s almost too innovative for it’s own good. Each new brand line this genius comes up with could have a yawning list of all the innovative characteristics it entails. Have I said the word “innovative” enough? Because it’s innovative.
＊＊New Menswear line! 新メンズウェアのライン！＊＊
Even the name evokes the “i”-word (psst…innovation). “Reality Lab”. Slick, isn’t it! It opened on the far end of Omotesando this Monday. Sure, when it comes to that area you might think “Prada” or “Comme des Garcons”, but I swear Issey Miyake seems to have every other space on that stretch of road for his own. It’s a realty empire.
So the “Reality Lab” consists of the high-tech brands that Miyake himself oversees with a small group of young, spunky designers that are often in lab coats. It really can get confusing to let’s break down each one of these labels.
1) Origami you can wear-:”132 5. Issey Miyake”
着れる折り紙：132 5. Issey Miyake
THIS. Two words for this: REALLY COOL. It’s literally origami you can wear, and then fold back up into a flat pinwheel again. That takes some practice, and I have a skirt which I admit I gave up on folding and have it hanging in my closet instead.
I can’t believe how far in design and textile color/processing this line has come in such a short time. The fabric is recycled from plastic bottles PET so it’s like a techno polyester. But then this season they came out with origami VELVET. I don’t know how those fold lines stay permanent, but they do! It’s incredible.
2) Interior decorating: “In-Ei Issey Miyake”
This is the interior product department of the origami fashion technique. Using mathematic equations the team designs objects which are folded from single pieces of paper. The material is also invented by the team. As a bonus, Issey Miyake Mens created a line of clothing inspired by Japanese washi paper and it’s fitted with super reflective tape in gold. If I heard correctly, Miyake himself will sign a few of the one-off pieces to the lucky buyers.
This is menswear made of Japanese WASHI paper
3) Bags: “Bao Bao Issey Miyake”
バッグ系：バオバオ Issey Miyake
These things sell like HOTCAKES. My mom asked for one of these for her birthday last year and everytime I went to the store they would be completely sold out (except for like, a pencil pouch and scrunchie…yeah, scrunchie). I had to order from the exhibition, then will wait more months until delivered. What I’m saying is, these are the crocodile Birkins of Japanese fashion. Theres even a limit to how many one can buy! I dig the metallic ones and also the Sputniko collaboration is very cool. Call yourself lucky if you get your hands on one.
Bonus- “Renjaku Bag”
The woven paper handles and balls decorating these bags are an artisinal technique native to the north Tohoku region of Japan. Teaming up with American product designer Mike Abelson means a fusion of that tradition with a modern, practical bag. I know that reads like a press release but it’s not, because it’s true.
4) Menswear: “Homme Plisse Issey Miyake”
メンズウェア系: Homme Plisse Issey Miyake
New brand alert! New brand alert! Think of it as a more casual brand than the menswear main line, and it’s all about comfort and convenience. So there are a lot of Issey’s signature high-tech pleats (which are more rounded than in the Pleats Please line so it’s more…gentlemanly? Classic? Softer? I think so.). The prices are mosre reasonable here too, and there are a lot of practical items made in collaboration with great designers too. There are the famed watches here, with a line made in collaboration with Tokujin Yoshioka. Famed designer Tokujin Yoshioka designed this shop space, by the way.
So go have fun and play in this “Reality Lab” sandbox when you’re in the area. But it’s all concrete so… keep your shoes on.
Editor: Lisa Ishiwata