Satoshi Kondo’s Vision for Miyake

Ise is a small Japanese city in the central Mie Prefecture located on the eastern edge of the Kii Peninsula. Here lies a big shrine complex centred on two main buildings that are the heart of the Shinto religion and it is famous for its tradition that has lasted over 1.300 years: every two decades the old shrines are dismantled, and new ones are built on an adjacent site. Why? Among the meanings of the ritual, there's the idea of using the process to keep the buildings forever new and forever ancient and original at the same time. It's intriguing, and above all, it's the perfect tool to understand our story. 

The talk I had with Satoshi Kondo, class of 1984 and the newly appointed Head Designer of the Issey Miyake Collection - that debuted last September with the Spring/Summer 2020 - reminded me of my Ise Jingu memories. I visited the location in 2013 (the year of the previous reconstruction, the next one will be in 2033) and felt the new energy springing from the fervent renewal works. 

"I think that the past is significant, it stimulates as a source of inspiration", explained the designer. "But I wouldn't necessarily consider the heritage as limiting when I design I always think about Mr Miyake's philosophy, but I figure it out as something ongoing rather than gone. Once you have this kind of mindset, you can keep his work adding my layers that reflect my point of view". Past and future merge in the creative approach of Kondo's vision, yet simultaneously, traditions are kept in Ise: skills of shrine builders and craftsmen in various fields are passed on from generation to generation to preserve abilities and cultures that in today's fast world would disappear. 

"In terms of design, there's always something that needs to stay unchanged, but at the same time, if we need to create a new fabric, we cannot stick at what we were before" explained Kondo. "Of course there's great attention on quality to maintain our standards, but we are open to new possibilities. We need to be the ones to judge what to use or not, when and how. Think about the speed of today's world, I feel that if I have to choose if accelerate or slow down, I personally would be more the analogue type. Today every information is just one click away, but I think that as a company there is always the need of doing as much as possible with our hands. The sense of craftsmanship will be irreplaceable. Experience is unique. For example, if I want to see a certain location, I prefer to go personally rather than just search it on the internet. Actually, I'm more that kind of person. There's always something you will discover when you see things and places with your eyes, I'm not satisfied with just a beautiful picture seen online", he stated. 

Despite the peculiar and gentle gestures of his society, Kondo is not the Japanese you would expect, he is confident and freely expresses his smart attitude. He is aware of the responsibilities, but he is also keen on which are the brand needs, and you feel it. The first collection presented last season was a big move into a new dimension. The Miyake iconic style always risks to be a golden cage, but he enlightened it injecting the positivity that fashion should always have. "As you saw in the show the models were smiling, a simple act which is unusual in a contemporary fashion show. That's the sort of the idea and the message I wanted to convey. To me, joy means putting on your clothes and enjoy the feeling, whatever you put on you should be happy, this is the beauty of fashion", said with Japanese ingenuity. Actually, the addiction of many meanings in today's collections is distracting from the sense of beauty, designers need to excite the audiences explaining what clothes often don't reveal. Kondo works on the reverse, he wants the clothes to express beauty and joy by themselves, without any filter. 

The show formula, conceived by famous dancer and choreographer Daniel Ezralow, was very engaging even though a bit long and old-fashioned, comparing today's shows' standards. Still, simplifying the direction and reducing the performances parts, it could become modern yet keeping the DNA. The most challenging part indeed. Miyake's world has been suspended in a timeless dimension for a long time, always trying to find a sharp image and revamp the desire around it, in contradiction with many other brands which keeps "welcome" the iconic Japanese Maison codes. 

Brigitte Lacombe is working on a new and calm imaginary that reflects the new course led by Kondo and the collection reworked many classics in a fresher way. Modern-day fashion tricks should also be an option, what about starting with focused collaborations which could fortify the process? The designer didn't agree: "I haven't considered any sort of it", he clarified. "I believe that my work is to have the full control of every step and the idea of opening to another company it's not under our radars so far. Of course, on the other hand, I'm very open to working with companies that could support our technological development of new material or fabric." Kondo fully gets the company philosophy, keeping Miyake outside any fashion trend, reaffirming it and trying to update all the aesthetic staples that made it last. Communication strategies are another facet he is working on. Like it or not, these are often even more important than the garment itself to boost the success of a company. 

Despite the Japanese hesitancy in regards to these new platforms, the designer has definite ideas about it: "I personally learned from Mr Miyake (who treats every single photo as a treasure) to present our visuals with the proper timing and format, but I'm also aware that people want everything right away without caring about formality or presentation. I know that we still are not so active on social media, for example, and I think, as a company, need to really work on this," he clarified. It seems that Satoshi Kondo is building the bridge that will carry the brand in its new era. He went to the core and once got it, he is rewriting it, leaving behind the heritage bonds.

SHARE
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Pinterest
SIMILAR ARTICLES
A Verdict on Digital Fashion Week
By Fabio Ciquera
In the past two weeks, we have witnessed an array of different and varied virtual presentations,...
By Fabio Ciquera
In the past two weeks, we have witnessed an array of different and varied virtual presentations, online happenings and symposia. One cannot accuse luxury houses to lack inventiveness, and there is a genuine appreciation for the quick turnaround in moving everything online. From Loewe to Prada and...
In the past two weeks, we have witnessed an array of different and varied virtual presentations, online happenings and symposia. One cannot accuse luxury houses to lack inventiveness, and there is a genuine appreciation for the quick turnaround in moving everything online. From Loewe to Prada and Dior, among the many names, the creative solutions have been exciting to watch. This new reality...
Revival LDN: The Upcycled Fashion Brand Aiming At Helping the Environment
By Alice Ierace
For years now, many fashion brands have added sustainability to their vocabulary and, through...
By Alice Ierace
For years now, many fashion brands have added sustainability to their vocabulary and, through research and proposals, have tried to lessen the fashion industry’s huge impact on the environment. However, despite the efforts, many are still the fast-fashion brands ignoring the issue. The problem is...
For years now, many fashion brands have added sustainability to their vocabulary and, through research and proposals, have tried to lessen the fashion industry’s huge impact on the environment. However, despite the efforts, many are still the fast-fashion brands ignoring the issue. The problem is that, no matter how sustainable they deem they are, we are still living in a fast-paced environment...
Reflections on Life post Lockdown at MFW
By Alice Ierace and Elisa Carassai
Etro Kicking off day two of Milan Fashion Week was ETRO presenting its Men’s Spring Summer 2021...
By Alice Ierace and Elisa Carassai
By Alice Ierace and Elisa Carassai
Etro Kicking off day two of Milan Fashion Week was ETRO presenting its Men’s Spring Summer 2021 and Women’s Resort 2021 collections with an informal gathering at Milan’s iconic Four Seasons Hotel. “We are finally back together, in the garden of this iconic hotel, in the heart of Milan’s...
Etro Kicking off day two of Milan Fashion Week was ETRO presenting its Men’s Spring Summer 2021 and Women’s Resort 2021 collections with an informal gathering at Milan’s iconic Four Seasons Hotel. “We are finally back together, in the garden of this iconic hotel, in the heart of Milan’s Montenapoleone district. We want to highlight that we are a family, that Etro is a family living in a world...
White Mountaineering Brings Back BLK Line
By Elisa Carassai
Showcasing at Paris Fashion Week, ’s White Mountaineering is the creative baby of Japanese...
By Elisa Carassai
Showcasing at Paris Fashion Week, ’s White Mountaineering is the creative baby of Japanese designer Yosuke Aizawa. This season, the designer not only presented an exclusive film directed by Daito Manabe from the Rhizomatiks, but he also decided to relaunch his original BLK line. Launched in 2009,...
Showcasing at Paris Fashion Week, ’s White Mountaineering is the creative baby of Japanese designer Yosuke Aizawa. This season, the designer not only presented an exclusive film directed by Daito Manabe from the Rhizomatiks, but he also decided to relaunch his original BLK line. Launched in 2009, White Mountaineering’s BLK Line proposed a new feel to outdoor wear with high-spec textiles and...
Digital Meets Local at Sunnei
By Elisa Carassai
Before lockdown started, Loris Messina and Simone Rizzo...
By Elisa Carassai
By Elisa Carassai
Before lockdown started, Loris Messina and Simone Rizzo were supposed to move in their newly-bought building, Casa Sunnei. Not being able to move in, and stuck quarantining home, the duo started reflecting on what they could do to move forward, at a slower...
Before lockdown started, Loris Messina and Simone Rizzo were supposed to move in their newly-bought building, Casa Sunnei. Not being able to move in, and stuck quarantining home, the duo started reflecting on what they could do to move forward, at a slower pace.  “During the lockdown, I realized we were moving at a pace that was too fast - we were...
A Play of Poetics at MFW
By Elisa Carassai
MSGM’s Midsummer Night’s Dream Kicking off the first day of Milan’s Digital Fashion Week was...
By Elisa Carassai
By Elisa Carassai
MSGM’s Midsummer Night’s Dream Kicking off the first day of Milan’s Digital Fashion Week was Massimo Giorgetti’s MSGM, with a film celebrating the new Milanese generation of young creatives, as well as the joy of life post-lockdown. Inspired by writer Isabella Santacroce’s book Fluo: Storie di...
MSGM’s Midsummer Night’s Dream Kicking off the first day of Milan’s Digital Fashion Week was Massimo Giorgetti’s MSGM, with a film celebrating the new Milanese generation of young creatives, as well as the joy of life post-lockdown. Inspired by writer Isabella Santacroce’s book Fluo: Storie di Giovani a Riccione (“Fluo: Stories of Young People in Riccione”) – who also happens to be from...
Purity and Tradition Intertwine at MFW
By Alice Ierace
Prada and The Show That Never HappenedFew people do fashion quite like Miuccia Prada. After the...
By Alice Ierace
Prada and The Show That Never HappenedFew people do fashion quite like Miuccia Prada. After the announcement back in February stating that Raf Simons would become the brand’s new co-creative director, today we were lucky enough to witness Miuccia’s last solo collection – her final bow after three...
Prada and The Show That Never HappenedFew people do fashion quite like Miuccia Prada. After the announcement back in February stating that Raf Simons would become the brand’s new co-creative director, today we were lucky enough to witness Miuccia’s last solo collection – her final bow after three decades of unforgettable shows.Of course, a simple presentation wasn’t in the plan – it needed that...
Auralee’s Imaginary Journey Through Time
By Alice Ierace
Firstly launched in Tokyo, designer Ryota Iwai decided to present Auralee’s latest Spring/Summer...
By Alice Ierace
Firstly launched in Tokyo, designer Ryota Iwai decided to present Auralee’s latest Spring/Summer 21 collection during digital Paris Fashion Week as one of the major independent fashion brands.As a brand, Auralee is renowned for its magnificent clean silhouettes, impeccable quality and minimal...
Firstly launched in Tokyo, designer Ryota Iwai decided to present Auralee’s latest Spring/Summer 21 collection during digital Paris Fashion Week as one of the major independent fashion brands.As a brand, Auralee is renowned for its magnificent clean silhouettes, impeccable quality and minimal styling. Its aim? A full exploration into the development of their own fabrics. By taking inspiration...