Summer 2007

Issey Miyake

‘The site is to Web design what Miyake is to textiles’

‘The main idea of the Miyake website is to share the universe and the emotion of the collection,’ says designer Etienne Mineur. ‘The goal of this website is not to sell you clothes (like an eShop). I imagine this site just like a journey through a different universe.’

Creative director for Issey Miyake: Naoki Takizawa. Art director: Roy Genty. Sound design: Sacha Gattino. Graphic/interactive design, animation, programming: Etienne Mineur, Incandescence.

John O’Reilly: A woman in a ruffled top. Hair sitting like a clog on her head. An urban nightscape with a purple filter. Drum’n’bass cocktail lounge. A slice of futuristic beauty from Issey Miyake. It’s a reminder that fashion is all about the edit. When clothes become graphics, fashion gives way to the future. It’s the visual language of aphorism.

Adrian Shaughnessy: I don’t suppose the Issey Miyake website attracts much passing trade. Its visitors, we must assume, are all dedicated Miyakeists with plenty of time on their hands and an insatiable appetite for the Miyake aesthetic. The site is visually arresting – a whirlwind of animation and cryptic code. Extensive use of ASCII technique could be groan-worthy – but here it is fresh and compelling. A bleep and glitch soundtrack takes some of the boredom out of waiting for pages to download. The trackless, free-form navigation means you always have the sense that you might be missing something. It’s the mirror opposite of the Ocado site: infuriating to use, but a delight to look at.

Brendan Dawes: If catwalk shows were only ever done online this is exactly how they would be. Each collection is a beautifully created interactive piece – which is really just a slideshow of images, but the way those images are ‘presented’ makes you want to keep exploring the collections. And there are also some inventive techniques used because of the constraints that the Web imposes. Take the 2005 men’s collection. Streaming high-quality video at a fairly large size is not an option even when so many of us are now on broadband. So the designer made the pixellated nature of low-quality video an aesthetic feature. To see a high-quality still you just click at any point in the video. This is what I absolutely love about working in this medium. The technical limitations of the Web force you to create inventive techniques that you wouldn’t have thought of, working in a more free medium.

Erik Spiekermann: Amazing. Even the sounds are interesting. Not an online catalogue of Miyake’s fashion, but that wouldn’t work anyway. But a very cool visual expression of the brand. Self-indulgent, yes. On-brand, yes. For people who are into fashion, yes. For people who are into Flash and DTHML coding, yes. This is about making stuff that kills time in a very interesting way. The site is to Web design what Miyake is to textiles.

Anne Burdick: Should we expect a fashion designer’s site to reproduce the drama and spectacle of the runway? Or is its purpose to document, to sell, and to inform?

The Issey Miyake site strives to do the former but only hints at what might have been possible had the collections been filmed for the internet as an original medium. Repurposed footage of the collections are presented in filmi-graphic environments whose virtuosity threatens to upstage the clothing. The cinematic interaction is all about the transitions, the interstitial moments where the site designers can strut their stuff. As a result, the motion graphics come off as the star of the show.