“I find making any type of textile interesting,” says Makiko Minagawa, the creative director of Haat, a textile-focused brand of Issey Miyake Inc. “But when I think of myself wearing a fabric, I think natural fibers are better.”

As the former textile director of the Miyake Design Studio, a position she held for almost 30 years, Minagawa is surprisingly candid about the potential of eco-friendly practices in the clothing industry. There are, she explains, challenges to sustainable textiles that will take time to overcome, such as modern machinery’s inability to cope with fragile natural fibers and the instability of some recycled materials.

“Issey Miyake has always been low-key about promoting its involvement in eco-friendly practices, but the company has been researching sustainability projects for a long time,” she says. “For example, it first started using a biodegradable polyester over 10 years ago, but back then, we found that the fabric would deteriorate after only a year of being worn. It’s one of those things that can’t be easily used without investing time in experimentation and testing.”