From the Library: PLEATS PLEASE

Following an iconic design born from a single thread.

04.1.2021

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This month’s feature is an exhaustive study on the limits of a single concept. Born quite literally from a single thread in 1993, PLEATS PLEASE (the brand) has become one of the fashion industry’s most recognizable signatures. Sharing a title with its namesake, PLEATS PLEASE (the book) meticulously chronicles how the brand went from conception, to design, to production and finally through its many innovative campaigns. Having a book trace a single product this way sheds light on the process of creativity at large. Our library is full of books of this sort, as we seek to understand what inspired and motivated the innovators from many fields, not just architecture and interiors.

As it stands now, PLEATS PLEASE is synonymous with its seminal creator, Issey Miyake. He writes, “Among the many clothes that I have created over the last four decades as a clothing designer, PLEATS PLEASE is the one that I really call my own. Of course I have presented at the Paris collections, but PLEATS PLEASE is what I consider my most valuable contribution to ‘design’…A single scarf inspired me. A scarf, folded in four and pleated at an angle, gave birth to a new pleating technique by which many new forms of clothing were possible… At the risk of being misunderstood, I want to emphasize that PLEATS PLEASE are ‘just clothes’, After I began to make them, I finally felt I could embrace the word ‘design’. Neither couture nor fashion, PLEATS PLEASE are ‘simply clothes’. By sending PLEATS PLEASE out into the world, I feel I have finally become a designer."

Given our own namesake, we tend to admire things that are democratic in their attempts to beautify the world. This is what PLEATS PLEASE does so brilliantly. Though clever and intricate in construction, the fabric itself is born of a basic synthetic thread (similar in compound to running gear) that has been manipulated in an ingeneous way. After being woven into a fabric, the pleating process takes place, rendering a material that appears much more sensual and delicate than it is. Utilitarian at its core, any PLEATS PLEASE garment can be scrunched and rolled and thrown without losing form. While the process of production is ultimately best described through the images we show here, we'd like to take a moment to remark on the beauty that is seeing a concept through its many iterations, testing limits, expanding capabilities.

Pleats Please, Photo by Kazumi Kurigami
Photo Kazumi Kurigami
From Nomadic Knits Contemorary, Photo by Martine Houghton
Photo Kazumi Kurigami
A paper patern is placed over the fabric and secured with clips and weights, then must be cut by hand with scissors
A pleated garment is visible as soon as the top piece of paper is torn and is ready to wear immediately
Stacks of Pleats Please awaiting inspection
After the pleats treatment, the finished pieces are layered on top and transported for inpection
The treatment known as keshi (to erase) pleats
Balls of cut garment in the "pleat and crush" process. They are wound into a ball after pleating.
Raw chips to be melted, extended, and solidified to become thread for PLEATS PLEASE
The sight of several hundred threads being coformed to a uniform tension and spooled onto beams (off camera)
PLEATS PLEASE photography by Francis Giacobetti
PLEATS PLEASE photography by Francis Giacobetti
PLEATS PLEASE photography by Francis Giacobetti
PLEATS PLEASE photography by Francis Giacobetti
Pregnant Swedish Royal Ballet dancers photographed by Ben Ingham for Telegraph Magazine, April 1995
From the catalog of the San Francisco department store, I. Magnin & Company
Guest Artist Series, Nobuyoshi Araki
Guest Artist Series, Tim Hawkinson
Ikko Tanaka's visual advertising instantly conveys the concept of PLEATS PLEASE and a season's signature features, while retaining a nearly uniform format
Ikko Tanaka's visual advertising instantly conveys the concept of PLEATS PLEASE and a season's signature features, while retaining a nearly uniform format
Advertising visual from the Spring/Summer 1998 collection by France's leading agency CLM BBDO
Advertising visual from the Spring/Summer 1998 collection by France's leading agency CLM BBDO
After working at Ikko Tanaka's studio, Kan Akita left to form his own design office, Akita Design His advertising visuals for PLEATS PLEASE include a homage to his mentor
After working at Ikko Tanaka's studio, Kan Akita left to form his own design office, Akita Design His advertising visuals for PLEATS PLEASE include a homage to his mentor
Advertisement for Wingspan, Nippon Airways' in-flight magazine
Advertisements for 2008 by Taku Satoh
Advertisements for 2008 by Taku Satoh
The PLEATS PLEASE Issey Miyake shop in New York, Photos by Paul Warchol
The PLEATS PLEASE Issey Miyake shop in New York, Photos by Paul Warchol
PLEATS PLEASE TRAVEL THE WORLD Campaign
PLEATS PLEASE TRAVEL THE WORLD Campaign
PLEATS PLEASE TRAVEL THE WORLD Campaign
PLEATS PLEASE TRAVEL THE WORLD Campaign
PLEATS PLEASE TRAVEL THE WORLD Campaign