Besides a good bunch of culinary guilty pleasures, Istanbul, the capital of Turkey yields also some remarkable players on the streetwear front –Les Benjamins, being probably the first one to demonstrate this to the world since its beginning back in 2011. You may not know their designs yet, but you may have heard of their epic parties during fashion week –the most recent one held during the latest edition of Paris Fashion Week, attended by celebs like Rita Ora. If you already managed to get over the hangover, I suggest you to take a look at the current spring/summer’16 collection called ‘Back to the Roots’ to find refreshing matching sets with colored details; textured bomber jackets; sweatshirts; cropped tops and pull over rain capes. Functionality is also a key aspect in the range, as well as the use of techniques such as digital embroideries. Right in time for the spring/summer’17 buying season, founder and creative director Bunyamin Aydin gives insights into the upcoming collection and the current state of streetwear.
I associate Les Benjamins with bold colorful prints and abstract graphics. However, I only found two of those in the current collection. Are you turning to a cleaner, sleek design to broaden the fan base?
Every year my designs are maturing. It’s not about broadening the fan base, its more about how I am starting to see the world. Graphics and prints are always important for me and they are a means of expression.
We will kick off the spring/summer’17 buying season soon. Could you give us a sneak peek of the forthcoming collection? What is it all about?
You will see Les Benjamins’ evolution. It’s going to be the strongest spring/summer we did. Especially in womenswear, we are getting better and better each season and this one is going to be powerful.
What are the key pieces for spring/summer’17?
Our signature pieces will remain with us, such as t-shirts, sweatshirts, jogger pants… But you will see different smart and breathable materials applied on them. Besides jog pants, we will be introducing Harem Pants as a new silhouette. Also in this season, we are coming with the strongest accessories selection we’ve ever created.
In 2015, we witnessed how regional differences in streetwear marked a milestone with the Gosha Rubchinskiy phenomenon. Do you plan to push the brand’s Turkish roots even stronger? If so, how?
It wasn’t started with Gosha actually. Regional differences were always important in the past 15 years of streetwear evolution. It’s just now being recognized by the big fashion institutions. And we are really glad that it’s happening and love what Gosha stands for. But it’s still at an early stage of development. Cultural diversity should be broader in streetwear in the following years because the world needs this positive communication through streetwear. That’s what we believe in at Les Benjamins and that’s where we came from; Istanbul. Istanbul is the base of variety of cultures and we are working to find aesthetical ways to show this to people in the world.
Where do you see streetwear heading in a couple of years? What is going to be the next big thing?
Streetwear must be more diverse culturally speaking. Diversification is the next big thing.
How many retailers are stocking Les Benjamins right now? Can you name some of the most well-known retailers carrying the brand worldwide?
We are having a more selected and focused stocking strategy. We don’t want everyone, we want the real people that believe in us and believe in the brand. At the moment, the brand is available in more than 60 selected stores. To name a few: Saks 5Th Avenue, V-Files, Bloomingdale’s, Harvey Nichols London, Storm, Brown’s, Beymen, and RSVP Gallery.
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