Founder and Creative Director of Les Benjamins Bunyamin Aydin is the Istanbul-based designer redefining modern streetwear. A brand that looks both forward and backward for inspiration, Les Benjamins’ latest collection pays homage to the explosive energy of the Turkish psychedelic rock scene of the ’70s whilst simultaneously capturing the rebellious spirit of youth culture today.
The art of storytelling is at the heart of Les Benjamins’ ethos. Every piece is an invitation to a world that blends the past, present and future of fashion, resulting in collections that above all celebrate the beauty found within juxtaposition. Les Benjamins’ aesthetic is truly unique in its ability to merge a respect of tradition with an unapologetic sense of modernity. Schön! caught up with Aydin to hear about everything from his broad range of cultural influences to what’s next for Les Benjamins.
Introduce us to the collection we see in these photos. What inspired this series of works?
The psychedelic rock movement in Turkey in the ’70s. Most people don’t know the artists Baris Manco, Cem Karaca, 3 Hurel, Mogullular, and more. It’s just crazy to see that there is music that is both very rooted to Turkish tradition and also a western aesthetic. It’s very similar to the DNA of Les Benjamins.
This collection clearly has a lot of cultural influences, blending Americana with Eastern design and more. How do you think being based in an international city like Istanbul influences your work?
Istanbul is more than just an international city. It divided East and West, which has the boiling energy of both. This really inspired me to design in thought of juxtaposition.
Speaking of Americana, you also recently debuted a collaboration with Coca Cola. Why did you choose to centre your collab on football?
I grew up in Germany in a small town called Neuss. My mother and father would take me to football training at age six like many Turkish-German kids, going back to my childhood.
There’s heavy emphasis on the ’80s and ’90s through this collection. What do you find so inspirational about this period of time?
I feel like in general I want to live in the ’80s these days. With the fast world and digitalisation, you want to slow down and become more analog. I guess as a designer the ’80s inspired me a lot.
The past few years have been filled with collaborations for your brand. How does designing for a collaboration differ from designing for your own label?
Empathy is key. You can’t just think of yourself and your own brand. I love doing collaborations that have a real story. It’s exciting because through the merger you create a new message.
You’ve said you are “a platform of how we want the East to be today.” What does that statement mean to you, and how does it influence the brand?
Supporting the youth culture in Istanbul has always been one of our most important concentrations. There are many artists, musicians, and creatives in Istanbul, but they need guidance and recognition. We use our power of communication and digital platforms to shoot editorials, write blogs, and [create] events to promote the local talent. It’s all about growing together. The bigger the creative scene gets in Istanbul, the more proud and supportive we can be.
How have you seen streetwear change since you entered the industry as a designer?
I started my brand in 2011 and I was part of the boom of many luxury streetwear brands. We all grew in our regions. I think it’s exciting to see how we all add to a bigger movement. Pharell, Nigo, Kanye, and Virgil opened a lot of doors for the acceptance of street culture in big fashion houses, which allows the movement to grow quicker. Now streetwear is more than a trend; it’s an aesthetic. It’s the acceptance of wearing what you want, when you want.
What do you see for the future of Les Benjamins?
We are planning on opening our Berlin store. Also, our new global e-commerce site recently launched.
all looks. Les Benjamins
photography. Olgac Bozalp
fashion. Raphael Hirsh
creative direction. Bunyamin Aydin
models. Oyku Bastas, Gunce Gozutok, Ozge Bilici, Furkan, Hali + Gani
hair. Hüseyin Altun
make up. Serkan Parmaksızoğlu
behind the scenes. Ali Gulsener
intro. Cordelia Speed