Les Benjamins showcased their Fall/Winter 2017 collection at Paris Fashion Week men’s:
In a majestic homage to the rare art of eagle hunting, Bunyamin Aydin explores the regal Mongolian sport for Fall Winter 2017-18. Inspired by the ancient ritual and its primal connection between man and beast, the collection charts a moving terrain across the steppes towards the Altai Mountains, in an elaborate patchwork of ethnic details and baroque-inflected sports finery.
By delving into this unique culture, an urban wardrobe emerges entwined with layers of craft. The collection elevated with a myriad of techniques, as thread embroidery, gold foil, photo-realistic historical prints and tapestry patchwork are combined across a warm, earthy palette of ochre, burgundy, navy, sand, crimson and gold. Bold text interventions hint at the mythical: slogans like ‘HUNT’, ‘THE HORSEMAN COUNTRY’ and ‘GREAT EAGLES FLY ALONE’ are emblazoned like industrial signage on double-face cotton jersey, and scrolled embroideries appear encrusted in French terry velvet. Bomber jackets are paneled in screen-printed faux fur, and long zipped hoodies are adorned with flocked and puff print, as a clash of traditional and contemporary graphic motifs.
With the iconic Nike Air Max 95 trainers on foot, models wear, LES BENJAMINS Autumn Winter 2017-18 collection is incite provocative dialogues of past and present, East and West.
Lets take it to the beginning, what pushed you to start your own fashion brand Les Benjamins? And Why?
I wanted to express freely and reflect to who I am via product and concept. The brand’s evolution from t-shirts to ready-to-wear streetwear label reflects who I became throughout the years. I was only 21 when I started with Les Benjamins. As I evolved, my life-style and views about the world have evolved, which reflected on my brand sharply. Now I believe Les Benjamins’ message is crisp clear but will continue to evolve as I grow.
Who is the Les Benjamins customer?
The youth and young adults between 16-35 years old are our target age group. Even though, personally I believe age is only a number for some people. Thus, actually my main audience is the people that grew up with global cultures and see no colour and don’t care about race differences. The ones that question things and are eager to learn about cultures and find similarities instead of differences. These people can associate with Les Benjamins pieces through our DNA.
Tell us about the street wear scene in Istanbul, what is Istanbul really known for in street fashion?
We own streetwear in Istanbul and throughout Turkey. Some people don’t know that Turkey is the centre of East and West, being the only city that has two continents in Europe and Asia. Therefore, the entire gulf region and Europe is watching what happens in Istanbul as it’s the meeting point of both. Being born in Germany, raised in Switzerland and living in Istanbul I turned my own personality of being a global citizen of the world into my own DNA at Les Benjamins. I do many talks and conferences in Turkey to introduce and inspire youth in Turkey about streetwear and where it’s going. More than being a streetwear brand I see myself as a movement from the East that is discovering new heights of streetwear that have never been touched before. Having said never touched before, its actually exciting. The street wear movement, especially in Istanbul, has just started and it exhilarates me to be the pioneer and witness of this. I am sure being immersed in East and West cultures, Istanbul will take the street culture that it owns and will rock the street wear scene.
So explain the new direction you decided to take for your AW17 collection and why?
Being the mix of east and west. I am strongly influenced by culture, tradition and the history of the East. Growing up in Europe as a kid I always questioned myself about our ancestors. How did we get to Germany? Therefore, every season I like to discover new stories from the east that pass through my vision, which creates a melting pot of cultures. This season I was highly inspired by Mongolia and East Asia. “The Eagle Hunter” collection is one that affected me throughout research and design process as it’s so rich in culture and untouched. Discovering stories and the history is what excites me the most. You can say I love to unfold stories.
What three words would you use to describe the collection?
Landscape, Nomads, Eternity
What is the main inspiration for the collection?
“The Eagle Hunter” on the horse on top of the mountain is my main inspiration. It’s a very strong job and nowadays you would not be able to learn how to do it. – Unless, you fly to Mongolia and find the right person to teach you. Its something to be respected, perfected by generations and hunting is done very meticulously. It’s something very noble, which inspires me a lot with its dignity.
Why did you decide to cast asian models this season?
I try to make my statements as strong as possible. It’s about creating a strong visual message that reflects to my season. The products show how I move the culture of the East forward.
Where do you usually go and find your Inspiration? Can it be hard to try and come up new ideas season after season?
To be honest there is no systematical way. I follow my instincts and I usually discover it by reading books, looking at art, discovering history, music, and movies. You could say I choose my own path every season just based on what I like and what I am thrilled about right at that second.
Tell us what made you decide to show in Paris again? What does Paris bring to Les Benjamins?
Paris is a hub for streetwear like Berlin, and London. The professional industry meets this week from all around the world. It’s one of the best cities, where a brand can introduce his or her voice. Even tough digital is key nowadays, I still believe that the human aspect is even more important.
You’ve just recently collaborated with Apple, Alpha Industries and Nike, how did these collaborations come about?
Again, it’s about the human aspect. Les Benjamins is more than a streetwear brand it’s a movement. We don’t care where someone is from and we build our community on the ideals of togetherness spreading a positive message.
Who else would you like to collaborate with in the future?
Instead of who else, I am focused on creating a long-term relationship with the brands and artists I collaborate with. Quality is more important than quantity is my philosophy when it comes on collaborations. Being friends with the one’s you collaborate with is another must for me. So, we keep it real.
You’ve also held some amazing parties during fashion week, collaborated with Travis Scott and had some star studded guests attend from Rita Ora to Alexander Wang. How did you build amazing networks during your journey?
You start with a big dream. However, you create small goals and go step by step. Most people dream big but doing the actual work to get there can mean that you must sacrifice your weekends and holidays. Even on holidays, I tend to put meetings and use my time most effectively and this is key when you start a new brand.
Coming a long way in the business, starting in 2011, what are some of the challenges you face up until now?
We live in the golden age of digitalization and I think there are too many brands that are trying to be seen. Therefore, you need to have a consistent message, unique DNA that reflects on who you are as a designer. Due to the tragic happenings in Turkey we creatives get dragged down, however, I personally believe that the creative scene and I in Istanbul must work harder now. Nothing will drag us down and I will do my best to give hope to all the creative industries in Turkey.
What has been your favourite moment for Les Benjamins since 2011 until now?
My favourite moments at Les Benjamins are the simplest moments like sharing a meal or playing basketball with my team. Since we spend every day together we are more like a family. The most difficult task becomes the simplest one, once you learn to work together as a team.
What can we look forward to by Les Benjamins in 2017?
The most exciting news is that we are opening multiple new retail stores in China. The Les Benjamins retail stores will have a completely new concept that I have designed together with my friends Sami Savatli & Neslihan Torun from Istanbul. Les Benjamins evolved to a platform in Istanbul, for artists to express their works globally. Therefore, I am proud of the talent we got here in Istanbul that nobody has heard of. We did release our pop up store concept at Pitti Uomo this season and received a lot of amazing feedback from everyone.