Having built his reputation on merging fashion with technology and methods of design far beyond conventional garment construction, Issey Miyake continues to move his now venerable house into new realms of womenswear. "Designers must not think egotistically about future trends but should consider the problem that is here, now," he says. "We cannot afford to look at this problem as leisurely spectators, as though it does not affect us." This statement accurately summarizes the concept behind Reality Lab, an in-house research and development team formed at Issey Miyake in 2007.
In late 2010, Reality Lab presented the project 132 5., building on Miyake's most advanced breakthroughs in the past, like Pleats Please in 1989 and A-POC in 1997. Thanks to a collaboration with computer scientist and professor Jun Mitani, the team was able to conceive an algorithm that creates unique 3D geometric shapes that can be folded into 2D forms, which are then heat pressed to become folded shirts, skirts, pants and one-piece dresses.
The challenge has been to fine tune them to the body shape and add comfort. Born from a unique synthesis of mathematics, clothes-making and sustainability, the recurring collection isn't scheduled by season, but rather revolves around the tenets of "regeneration and re-creation".
Based upon principles of collaboration and teamwork, Reality Lab aims to improve the production processes with an eye on local Japanese manufacturing. Issey Miyake has always made an effort to incorporate local materials and factories from all over the country, and has developed close working relationships with the people at each site. While Miyake uses traditional methods, his work marks a drastic departure from overtly traditional and ethnic styles.
The Reality Lab also aims to work with materials that don't depend on fossil fuels. As a result, the entire 132 5. line is made from a special polyester derived from pulverizing, melting and spinning PET in a process that reduces energy consumption and CO2 emissions by about 80 percent.
This year, 132 5. has been nominated for the Design Museum's Designer of the Year Award. The winner will be announced 24 April, 2012. In the meantime, the collection is available year-round at the 132 5. Store in Tokyo and in selected Issey Miyake stores worldwide.