Inoue pleats company

A pleat is a "fold formed by doubling fabric back upon itself and securing it in place" (wikipedia 2023). Pleats "gather a wide piece of fabric to a narrower circumference", either to create shape or to give garments mechanical stretch. The inoue pleats company (founded 1936), was the first Japanese company to produce pleated garments on a mass scale (Huang 2020: 58). They were initially a trading company, but began developing their own pleating facilities from 1943 onwards (Museum of Modern Art 1998a). The company is sometimes credited (in part due to their previous relationship with issey miyake and the miyake design studio) with helping to popularise the use of heat set permanent pleats in japan, and worldwide (Glueck 1998; Kume and Italiano 2015: 110).


Types of pleating

There are three primary methods of creating pleats: manual pleating, machine pleating, and hand pleating. Manual pleating involves folding and pressing pleats by hand with an iron; machine pleating, in which pleats are produced by compressing a fabric and running in through heated rollers to set the pleats in place, and hand pleating, in which precut fabric is placed into chemically-treated paper patterns which are then heated in order to form pleats (McCarty and McQuaid 1998: 26). 

The inoue pleats company primarily produces machine and hand pleated garments, and focuses on methods that use heat to create permanently set pleats in synthetic fabrics (Huang 2020: 58). Some of these techniques produce textiles with a consistent, fairly regular pattern, while others are more irregular. One example is Wrinkle P (1997), a fabric developed by inoue pleats company that was featured in a 1998 exhibition of contemporary japanese textiles at the Museum of Modern Art (1998b). It is "produced by randomly stuffing polyester fabric into a small container and heating it under high temperature in order to permanently set the pleats" , and results in garments with a soft, crumpled, vaguely higgledy piggledy appearance:

An example of inoue pleats company's 'wrinkle p' fabric, here used to produce a brown wrinkled polyester shirt


Inoue pleats and issey miyake

In the delightfully-named PhD thesis 'In-Between Pleats: Pleats, pleating and 'pliable logic'', Tsai-Chun Huang writes that "Even though pleating machines offer efficient ways to produce large quantities of pleats in a short period of time, it was not until 1941 when the synthetic fibre, polyester, was invented, that people could enjoy permanent pleats, thanks to the thermal plastic property of the new fabric ... polyester completely changed the durability of pleats. Pleats formed with polyester do not need to be repleated after use or washing. They tolerate humidity well. This drastically decreases the cost of producing pleats, making them more accessible to the general public."

This development was crucial for the way issey miyake and the miyake design studio approached pleating via lines such as the early pleats (t) and more famous pleats please, which almost solely rely on permanent pleats made using polyester. And it makes sense that miyake design studio turned to the inoue pleats company to manufacture many of their early pleated garments (Huang 2020: 58), given they had been developing versions of this technology (heat set, permanent pleats applied to synthetic fabrics) since the 1950s.

It's unclear to me how long exactly the inoue pleats company produced garments for miyake, but Huang (2020: 58) cites another researcher, Baurley, who claimed that Inoue "created fabric for Issey Miyake until their collaboration was suspended " some time prior to 1997, "when Miyake Design Studio required sole use of Inoue pleated fabrics, to which the company did not agree". Presumably because inoue wished to continue manufacturing garments for other companies as well.



The inoue pleated garments filter store has for sale are almost all from a label called wrinqle, which I started collecting (very) slowly in december 2020 after seeing one for sale and having a sense that it might be really good (it was). In truth, I've been unable to find much at all about wrinqle, expect for the fact that it seems to have been an in-house label manufactured by the inoue pleats company. It struck me as worthwhile to present a small assortment of these garments for sale, both for their beauty in their own right, and as a point of comparison to better known designers of pleated garments such as miyake and yoshiki hishinuma.

I also have two Inoue pleated garments that aren't from 'wrinqle'; one a more traditional style grey wool pleated skirt manufactured by inoue pleats co for a brand called 'gio', and the other from a label amusingly named pleeets (yes, three eees, no aaas) which a bio in the museum of modern art (1998a) exhibition explained is the name of inoue pleats' tokyo retail store.

You can see the full collection of inoue pleats co garments here.



Glueck G 1998, ‘DESIGN REVIEW; Fish Mesh to Fashion Plate,’ New York Times, November 20, Section E p. 41, accessed 28 February 2024, 

Huang T-C 2020, In-between pleats: pleats, pleating and ‘pliable logic,’ Royal College of Art, 
accessed 28 February 2024,

McCarty C and McQuaid M 1998, Structure and Surface: Contemporary Japanese Textiles, Museum of Modern Art, New York

Kume N and Italiano I 2015, ‘Textile Pleats as Timeless Beauty,’ International Journal of Humanities and Social Science, vol. 5, no. 6, 109-115

Museum of Modern Art 1998a, ‘Artist Biographies’, Japanese Textiles, accessed 28 February 2024,

Museum of Modern Art 1998b, ‘Sculpted’, Japanese Textiles, accessed 28 February 2024,

Wikipedia 2023, Pleat, accessed 28 February 2024,