Fashion’s Man of the Future

In an imposing black building across from Yoyogi Park, teams of designers and pattern makers bustle about every day conceptualizing and making the fashions that may well see us into the future. Issey Miyake is a brand with nearly four decades of history, and yet it remains one of the most innovative and modern companies in fashion, continually pushing boundaries and blurring the lines between technology and craftsmanship. This tradition of innovation is carried on by the line’s creative director, Dai Fujiwara, who in 2006 took the reins from Mr. Miyake’s successor, Naoki Takizawa.

Fujiwara is, above all else, an intellectual. His brilliance can be seen in his meticulous and calculating approach to design. For Issey Miyake’s fall 2009 collections, Fujiwara was inspired by architectural elements, specifically frames. Never one to settle for one solo theme, however, Fujiwara combined this idea with inspiration he got from studying the movements of top-class karate fighters. “They know well about how to control and to keep their energy in one stroke,” says Fujiwara. “This is the same philosophy that Issey Miyake has: we try to use everything to make one product from one piece of cloth, with no waste.” Here, Fujiwara is referring to A-POC, the idea that first gained him recognition as a fashion innovator back in the 1990s.

A-POC stands for A Piece of Cloth, and is the brainchild of Fujiwara from his days as a textile designer under Issey Miyake. He presented his idea to Miyake, who recognized its potential and agreed to develop it into a reality. What followed has been dubbed “the way clothes will be made in the future” by analysts and experts across the fields of design and technology. Simply put, a series of information, including measurements, colors and special finishes, is input into a computer, which then relays the information to a specialized knitting or weaving machine. The machine goes to work, and what comes out is, after a few scissor snips by the customer along faint outlines, a finished garment, completely customized to the customer’s size and taste.

Once a stand-alone collection, A-POC has now morphed into A-POC Inside, a concept that completely integrated the technology into the main Issey Miyake collections. Always an innovator, Fujiwara’s attention remains on the future. “A-POC cannot be used for everything. To move the technology forward, other companies and other industries need to expand on the current ideas and develop them for new uses, rather than just doing the same thing we are doing.”

Regarding his next major project, Fujiwara remains mum, but he has lots to say about the future of the fashion industry as a whole. “Now, it’s easy to get clothes from a website, and to see the collections through a website. But this is information, not objects. The web has a huge power for the future, but in its current state it is discouraging new ideas. In order to do something completely new, we must change the current rules of the internet.” Something tells me we haven’t seen the end of Dai Fujiwara’s rule breaking. by Kelly Wetherille

Photography: Bernd Mats (

Styling: Kelly Wetherille

Makeup: Takako Uchiyama Hair: Masanori Kobayashi of Shima

Models: Olga Nahimovica, Mariya Garmash, and Lucas Mascarini of Bravo Models (

Photographer’s assistant: Mamoru Higashino