Les Benjamins

Les Benjamins

Bunyamin Aydin Les Benjamins

We meet again, Bunyamin! We are here at Les Benjamins’ showroom, where you’re showing the brand’s Fall-Winter 2017 collection. What’s the story of this line?
I love storytelling and I get to tell one through Les Benjamins every season. For Fall-Winter 2017, I found inspiration in Mongolia. I analysed where they live, what and how they eat, how they hunt, using eagles. Then I used these informations to make my collection.
You see the inspiration on every item of the Les Benjamins Fall-Winter 2017 collection. The tents they live in, the fur coats of the Mongolian hunters, the feathers of their eagles, the mountains… Some details are very minimal and subtle.
How do you gather these informations? Do you read books, look on the Internet, maybe meet people from places you get inspiration from?
I do that and go even further: I visit the place. I went to Mongolia and stayed a whole week, living amongst the people, eating with them and taking pictures. I will go back there to shoot Les Benjamins’ Fall-Winter 2017 ad campaign.
I also listen to local music. That’s my favourite part. We played Mongolian music at our presentation at the Maison Loo. They perform throat-singing, It’s amazing. You should check it out!
Aren’t you afraid of the “cultural appropriation” remarks? We’ve read them a lot, lately!
I’m not, because I don’t just take from other cultures. My goal is to share things and experiences, and move people forward. Brands get inspiration from all over the world, but they see it from the outside and don’t get involved. I don’t want to see things from afar, I try to be as close as I can.
We are you from?
My parents are from the Democratic Republic of Congo, in Central Africa.
Culturally, the DRC is a very rich country, from its traditions to the music to the food. Unfortunately, somebody from Congo or of Congolese descent who grew up in New York, is likely to reject any association with Congo, because he/she wants to be New York. I want to break that complex and want people to realise the beauty of their own culture.
But it goes beyond borders. My message is global. It means that a Turkish person can wear something inspired by Congo. It isn’t cultural appropriation if there’s mutual respect and if we share things. With Les Benjamins, I’m bringing people and cultures together.
Why did you make it your job to bring cultures together? Why is it so important to you?
I feel like it’s in me. Growing up in Turkey, I was always stuck between the Turkish kids who stayed between themselves, and the German kids who also hung out together. I was cool with both sides and ultimately achieved to bring them closer. I was 12 or 13 back then.
And today, my friends come from all over the world. Turkey of course, but also Angola, Mexico! My entourage is mixed. I see similarities in different cultures, and if we focus on what we have in common, then we can all live in peace and harmony. This is a strong message that fashion can have.
But fashion is considered to have a lower influence on the masses than say, music or movies!
It’s not necessarily true. Fashion belongs to the people. It starts in little communities which have their own dress codes, prior to making it on a runway or in the press.
A kid can spread a message without talking, simply by buying a jacket. Fashion has the incredible strength to grab people’s attention. When you dress up, you feel different. It’s a indescribable feeling. With Les Benjamins, items of our Mongolia-inspired Fall-Winter 2017-18 collection have the Mongolian attitude.
Don’t be so sure, fashion and style are very powerful. That’s also why you see a lot of artists designing clothes and collaborating with clothing brands. It brings value to your art.
[Les Benjamins]
What’s the Mongolian swag you’re talking about? Break it down for somebody who’s never been in Mongolia or interacted with a Mongolian person.
It’s a different world. Mongolia shares borders with China and Russia, and is very close to Kazakhstan. These countries’ history have similarities.
The Mongolian people are nomads, so tents are important to their lifestyle. The horses and eagles—they are unfortunately an endangered species—are important as well. The way they hunt, how they train their eagles, it’s a science.
Style-wise, they are designers in their own rights. They’re big on embroidery, so I also did a lot of it on Les Benjamins’ Fall-Winter 2017 collection. They wear a lot of fur. I didn’t use it because I’m for the ethical treatment of animals. I’d rather use velvet.
But the Mongolian hunters’ style game is crazy. Their accessories, the hats, the belts… I saw and learned a lot by observing them.
In 2016, the city of Istanbul fell victim to terrorism several times, with the last attack happening On New Year’s Eve. Do these horrific crimes and killings kill creativity?
It doesn’t. It’s quite the opposite, actually.
I love my country. These events are really tragic and unfortunately, Turkey isn’t the only target. It happens all around the world.
It’s very sad. But being a role model for a lot of people, I have to step up! These tragedies make me go harder. It affects me but It motivates me as well. I want to work more, do more and lead the people in Turkey. I want to show them that we must not give up, no matter what. To prepare our future, we need to work more now. We get punched and get back up.
The world is going through tough times. People have two options: giving up or going forward. I chose to go forward and move on. You’re a journalist, are you going to stop writing because of the circumstances? No, you’re out doing your job, looking for the news.
We need to keep going and adapt to every situation. If you’re afraid to go out because of danger, stay inside, read books and get inspired. Find a new way to do things.
The Les Benjamins FW 2017 presentation was highly-anticipated! A lot of young Parisian stopped by to discover your new collection and enjoy their Fashion Week moment.
It was awesome! I loved every bit of it. Last year, we showed in Milan because it’s the strongest place for menswear. I wanted to try it, I felt it was the right thing to do. We did something cool but Milan isn’t the city of streetwear. Paris is different.
Regarding young people, the fashion industry is just starting to get them involved. Youth is so important to me and their excitement for Les Benjamins is amazing. It started with 5 kids, then It got to 20, then 50, 100, 1000… it keeps getting bigger. Youth is driving the culture, not the decision makers. So it’s important to welcome them and to be approachable, to shake hands and take the time to talk.
When we throw a party, I dance in the pit. That’s my state of mind.
What’s next for Les Benjamins?
We’re starting to work with Printemps and we will do something beautiful. Our biggest project will be in Shanghai and Beijing, China. We will open stores there and I’ll do a show in one of the two cities, to celebrate the stores opening. We will open other stores in other places, but we’re starting with China.
We will be back in Paris in June for a fashion show, showing the Les Benjamins Spring-Summer 2018 collection. I’m already working on it. Look forward to discovering another eastern story!
By IGGY NKO
Photos ©DYLAN DON

Les Benjamins

Bunyamin Aydin Les Benjamins

We meet again, Bunyamin! We are here at Les Benjamins’ showroom, where you’re showing the brand’s Fall-Winter 2017 collection. What’s the story of this line?
I love storytelling and I get to tell one through Les Benjamins every season. For Fall-Winter 2017, I found inspiration in Mongolia. I analysed where they live, what and how they eat, how they hunt, using eagles. Then I used these informations to make my collection.
You see the inspiration on every item of the Les Benjamins Fall-Winter 2017 collection. The tents they live in, the fur coats of the Mongolian hunters, the feathers of their eagles, the mountains… Some details are very minimal and subtle.
How do you gather these informations? Do you read books, look on the Internet, maybe meet people from places you get inspiration from?
I do that and go even further: I visit the place. I went to Mongolia and stayed a whole week, living amongst the people, eating with them and taking pictures. I will go back there to shoot Les Benjamins’ Fall-Winter 2017 ad campaign.
I also listen to local music. That’s my favourite part. We played Mongolian music at our presentation at the Maison Loo. They perform throat-singing, It’s amazing. You should check it out!
Aren’t you afraid of the “cultural appropriation” remarks? We’ve read them a lot, lately!
I’m not, because I don’t just take from other cultures. My goal is to share things and experiences, and move people forward. Brands get inspiration from all over the world, but they see it from the outside and don’t get involved. I don’t want to see things from afar, I try to be as close as I can.
We are you from?
My parents are from the Democratic Republic of Congo, in Central Africa.
Culturally, the DRC is a very rich country, from its traditions to the music to the food. Unfortunately, somebody from Congo or of Congolese descent who grew up in New York, is likely to reject any association with Congo, because he/she wants to be New York. I want to break that complex and want people to realise the beauty of their own culture.
But it goes beyond borders. My message is global. It means that a Turkish person can wear something inspired by Congo. It isn’t cultural appropriation if there’s mutual respect and if we share things. With Les Benjamins, I’m bringing people and cultures together.
Why did you make it your job to bring cultures together? Why is it so important to you?
I feel like it’s in me. Growing up in Turkey, I was always stuck between the Turkish kids who stayed between themselves, and the German kids who also hung out together. I was cool with both sides and ultimately achieved to bring them closer. I was 12 or 13 back then.
And today, my friends come from all over the world. Turkey of course, but also Angola, Mexico! My entourage is mixed. I see similarities in different cultures, and if we focus on what we have in common, then we can all live in peace and harmony. This is a strong message that fashion can have.
But fashion is considered to have a lower influence on the masses than say, music or movies!
It’s not necessarily true. Fashion belongs to the people. It starts in little communities which have their own dress codes, prior to making it on a runway or in the press.
A kid can spread a message without talking, simply by buying a jacket. Fashion has the incredible strength to grab people’s attention. When you dress up, you feel different. It’s a indescribable feeling. With Les Benjamins, items of our Mongolia-inspired Fall-Winter 2017-18 collection have the Mongolian attitude.
Don’t be so sure, fashion and style are very powerful. That’s also why you see a lot of artists designing clothes and collaborating with clothing brands. It brings value to your art.
[Les Benjamins]
What’s the Mongolian swag you’re talking about? Break it down for somebody who’s never been in Mongolia or interacted with a Mongolian person.
It’s a different world. Mongolia shares borders with China and Russia, and is very close to Kazakhstan. These countries’ history have similarities.
The Mongolian people are nomads, so tents are important to their lifestyle. The horses and eagles—they are unfortunately an endangered species—are important as well. The way they hunt, how they train their eagles, it’s a science.
Style-wise, they are designers in their own rights. They’re big on embroidery, so I also did a lot of it on Les Benjamins’ Fall-Winter 2017 collection. They wear a lot of fur. I didn’t use it because I’m for the ethical treatment of animals. I’d rather use velvet.
But the Mongolian hunters’ style game is crazy. Their accessories, the hats, the belts… I saw and learned a lot by observing them.
In 2016, the city of Istanbul fell victim to terrorism several times, with the last attack happening On New Year’s Eve. Do these horrific crimes and killings kill creativity?
It doesn’t. It’s quite the opposite, actually.
I love my country. These events are really tragic and unfortunately, Turkey isn’t the only target. It happens all around the world.
It’s very sad. But being a role model for a lot of people, I have to step up! These tragedies make me go harder. It affects me but It motivates me as well. I want to work more, do more and lead the people in Turkey. I want to show them that we must not give up, no matter what. To prepare our future, we need to work more now. We get punched and get back up.
The world is going through tough times. People have two options: giving up or going forward. I chose to go forward and move on. You’re a journalist, are you going to stop writing because of the circumstances? No, you’re out doing your job, looking for the news.
We need to keep going and adapt to every situation. If you’re afraid to go out because of danger, stay inside, read books and get inspired. Find a new way to do things.
The Les Benjamins FW 2017 presentation was highly-anticipated! A lot of young Parisian stopped by to discover your new collection and enjoy their Fashion Week moment.
It was awesome! I loved every bit of it. Last year, we showed in Milan because it’s the strongest place for menswear. I wanted to try it, I felt it was the right thing to do. We did something cool but Milan isn’t the city of streetwear. Paris is different.
Regarding young people, the fashion industry is just starting to get them involved. Youth is so important to me and their excitement for Les Benjamins is amazing. It started with 5 kids, then It got to 20, then 50, 100, 1000… it keeps getting bigger. Youth is driving the culture, not the decision makers. So it’s important to welcome them and to be approachable, to shake hands and take the time to talk.
When we throw a party, I dance in the pit. That’s my state of mind.
What’s next for Les Benjamins?
We’re starting to work with Printemps and we will do something beautiful. Our biggest project will be in Shanghai and Beijing, China. We will open stores there and I’ll do a show in one of the two cities, to celebrate the stores opening. We will open other stores in other places, but we’re starting with China.
We will be back in Paris in June for a fashion show, showing the Les Benjamins Spring-Summer 2018 collection. I’m already working on it. Look forward to discovering another eastern story!
By IGGY NKO
Photos ©DYLAN DON