The Hype Behind Issey Miyake Sport (I.S)
When looking at any clothing brand, you can always see a few subtleties that bring attention to the brand’s name, rather than the garment itself. Think of the hand-distressed “bullet holes" in each Number (N)ine hoodie, or even the fur trim lining the collar of a Helmut Lang Astro Jacket. These small details serve as a mechanism of branding, an attempt to almost commercialize the brand to a certain degree. It's a nod to the brand's ethos, embodying both its history and philosophy. Supreme’s box logo has became a staple in streetwear only because of what it represents. It is the embodiment of youth culture, and therefore, a status symbol for hypebeasts everywhere. Not too far from the ubiquitous box logo, there is the I.S. insignia from Issey Miyake’s sub-line, Issey Sport.
Issey Miyake’s name has become synonymous with the avant-garde, deterring from the hype surrounding any other streetwear brand. That being said, fashion is cyclical; we’re typically all drawn to the same things one way or another in the end. Even if you're a streetwear-turned-die-hard fashion nerd, there is always going to be a part of you that misses the flex. Stunting with something as simple as a logo lets everybody what you’re about. Issey Sport is a departure from Miyake's mainline, situating itself in the beautiful, grey area between high-fashion and streetwear. Around 1977, Issey Miyake signed on several young designers to Issey Sport, an attempt to streamline his brand to a younger, more hip audience. A similar move was incorporated about two decades before when Kensuke Ishizu changed VAN to VAN JACKET, transitioning from off-the-rack suiting to more ready-to-wear garments suitable for Japan’s large youth population that came from the post-war boom. The same was true for Issey Miyake, as he sought to take advantage of a state of economic prosperity and consumerism.
By the 1970s, Japan had fully tapped into its economic potential, allowing for a period of stability and growth in consumerism. This was the perfect opportunity for Miyake to bring his new brand to the forefront of youth culture. He had the idea of releasing more casual, relaxed-fitting garments that fit the brand's detail-oriented designs, but that were also cheaper to produce. The result brought Chisato Tsumori, a young designer straight from the distinguished Bunka Fashion School, to the IS team. Tsumori’s work would eventually grant her the position of head designer and the inclusion of her name in the brand’s trademark: “I.S. Chisato Tsumori.” The trademark would soon distinguish almost every item released by Issey Sport.
The sub-line became very popular with young adults in the 1980's considering its wide range of stadium jackets and sweatshirts in boxy and oversized cuts. Select I.S. pieces included its signature washing and handling instructions motif, situated between the I.S. badge. Issey Sport was characteristic of it's time period-the intersection between the avant-garde and streetwear. Between The DC Boom in Harajuku and the opening of NOWHERE in Urahara, Issey Sport found prominence in the fluctuating trends and styles of the era.
With archival fashion having a "moment" in menswear right now alongside the blurred lines between high-fashion and streetwear, Issey Sport hits all the right spots. The styles and cuts are reminiscent to those of Yohji Yamamoto, but the subtle branding and tactile design put I.S. in a league of its own. The I.S. bomber has become such a #grail not just because of its amazing design, but because of what the I.S. trademark represents: the rich history of Issey Miyake and his un-paralleled work. Newer, more contemporary brands have also taken notice of the hype, and have begun biting designs from Issey Miyake. Dystopian streetwear brand, Cav Empt, recently dropped a "Utility Bomber Jacket" that seems to strongly resemble an I.S. bomber. Take note of the tactile design, boxy cut, and inconspicuous branding that I.S. and Issey Miyake Men are known for.
If you needed further proof of I.S. hype, just ask the founder of Fashion Moves Forward-Jackson Ray. Jackson convinced me that he was going to cop the I.S. wool bomber (pictured above) from The Grailed 100. He was so sure that he was going to cop. Well...RIP homie. Jackson was constantly refreshing Dry Clean Only, finally got to the 100, clicked on the bomber and...bricked it. The jacket ended up selling for $1010, an absurd price when simply glancing at the jacket. Only a true connoisseur of men's fashion could possibly understand the significance of owning such a garment. The I.S. bomber falls into a transitional period for Japanese fashion. Between avant-garde and streetwear, Issey Sport is its own entity, unlike any alternative sportswear brand. The modest I.S. trademark gives a nod to the small, but prominent community of Japanese fashion nerds, perhaps being the greatest low-key flex of all time.