It was a pleasant surprise to turn the pages of Dazed & Confused June issue to find an editorial dedicated to Issey Miyake's Pleats Please due to its twentieth anniversary. Surprised because I rarely see it used in mainstream fashion editorials and pleasant because in recent years, I've developed a bit of a Pleats Please accumulation obsession. Out of Issey Miyake's empire of fabric innovations of which there are many, Pleats Please for me has a versatility that makes every piece useful as well as distinctive in its appearance. The brand is almost taken for granted for its innovation, which is that Issey Miyake takes 100% polyester fabric and cut and sews pieces when they are three times larger than the end result and then puts them through a heat press to give them that permanently pleated finished state. They're rendered entirely machine washable, entirely scrunchable and requires zero ironing. On a less mumsy note, the architectural properties of Pleats Please is remarkable and I'm only reminded of this fact every time I wear a piece, because as I move it miraculously falls into its proper position automatically. It's like a metal slinky but in fabric form.
For the obvious reason that all Pleats Please pieces are completely elasticated and have naturally stretchy properties due to its tightly partitioned pleats, Pleats Please can so often fall into that very specific "I'm a chic gallerist or art school teacher, who makes pots and grows herbs in my spare time" style niche. Not that there's anything wrong with chic gallerists and art school teachers, who makes pots and grows herbs. In fact, life would be pretty sweet if I had spare time to work the kiln and trim tarragon. What I mean is that when you overdose on Pleats Please head to toe, it can result in a look that ages you about two decades, which is fine if you want to look that way but seems to deter a younger audience from getting into Pleats Please. Precisely why whenever I say Pleats Please to friends, they furrow their brows and say "I've only ever seen elderly Japanese ladies going in there…"
All the better for me to take the opportunity to raid Pleats Please whenever I go to Tokyo and do our ritual of a trip to Gotemba Premium Outlets. It's a dull trek but the money saving fanatic inside of me is willing to sacrifice a precious day to do this discount detour. The Japanese brands such as Tsumori Chisato, Y's and Issey Miyake are especially worth going to (Balencaiga, YSL and Prada etc however are a little bit patchy and pricy in case you're wondering). On a recent trip to the Pleats Please outlet, I picked up a pair of trousers featuring a muted plaid/stripe design, which reminds me of the sort of sludgy ceramic patterns seen in Rochas' A/W 12-3 collection. Pleats Please fabric is a foundation for pretty much anything the design team wishes to bung on it and over the years, we've seen anything from Lichtenstein pop-art prints to Renaissance paintings to mock denim. I find you get slightly more mileage out of the plainer pieces, which are really useful layering devices but it's always interesting to see what pattern and print stories they have come up with as seen in pieces used in the Dazed editorial.
Pleats Please rummaging on eBay and on Yoox is your best bet if you can't get to a physical store and fortunately sizing isn't an issue with this magically expanding and shrinking fabric. I only wished Pleats Please would develop a proper e-commerce site, with a fully diverse choice of product, which I think would widen its customer base beyond the aforementioned Pleats Please afficionados and lone fabric freaks like myself.