Available in Dubai at Bloomingdale’s
Born in Turkey, raised in Germany, Bunyamin Aydin honed his photography and design skills to launch his own fashion brand, Les Benjamins, in Istanbul in 2011. Starting with printed T-shirts, it has since evolved into a respected luxury streetwear brand, and has even collaborated with the likes of Puma.
Aydin was recently in Dubai to launch his autumn-winter collection, available from Bloomingdale’s in Dubai Mall. Inspired by protective outdoor sportswear, he incorporates placement prints, mixes modern tech fabrics with wool, and adds draw cords, magnetic closure pocket flaps, carabiner zip pulls, and other details.
MOJEH Men caught up with Aydin to find out more:
Is this your first time in Dubai?
Not at all. I come over about three or four times a year. It kind of feels like home being here. Over the visits I’ve made friends, and I have my favourite spots where I like to hang out. Les Benjamins has a huge following in Istanbul, and our second biggest community is Dubai.
Travel is clearly important to you. How does that translate into streetwear?
My creative mind is stimulated by music, art, fashion and culture. I knew that I wanted to design an outdoor, hiking-inspired collection, which led me to research the best hiking trails. Choosing the colours and minimal details from hiking naturally blended with the concept.
We spotted a new brand logo too. Is this an evolution for Les Benjamins?
The new logo is inspired by my passion for photography and love of carpets, reflecting the culture of where I’m from. I wanted to tap into certain cultural clichés, but in a sophisticated, minimal way that resonates with millennials and the future generations. The logo represents ‘Modern East’, which is our brand slogan.
As well as the advanced materials, you’ve gone for bold, vibrant colours – tell us about that.
I’m all about colour and contrast. Purple has always been a favourite of mine, and the story begins with finding the right tone. Once the main theme was determined, I wanted contrast, so I added neon oranges and greens. For me, it’s always one colour that I’m passionate about, and the rest is harmonised around it.
What are some of the key pieces in this collection?
This season, Les Benjamins has a range of fleece tops that have minimal branding, and trousers with corduroy. ‘Streetwear’ is a word that’s being overused, and I feel like it’s losing its value. We make iconic clothing that our customers can keep forever, as they will see with our minimal tailoring pieces.
How do you stand out against the competition?
I believe that we should all go back to our roots, and rediscover our past to design the future. Simple and minimal shapes of clothing are the future for my vision. For me, Les Benjamins is for a new wave of millennials that don’t like labels, are open to different cultures, and well-travelled.
Are you working on anything else with Puma currently?
Our latest Les Benjamins x Puma collaboration is now in 500 stores internationally, in some of the most important sneaker stores in the world. It’s definitely a pioneering moment for me as a designer, and also being from the Middle East.
How do collaborations work? Do you keep back your best ideas?
I approach collaborations in a very unique way. It’s all about empathy and balance for me. I need to respect the brand’s heritage and combine it with the Les Benjamins DNA. Most designers and collaborators miss this aspect, but it’s key to creating an authentic long-term collaborative collection. We’ve worked on projects with Nike, Apple, BMW, Besiktas football club and many more. All of them have a unique voice and are well balanced.
What advice would you give to somebody wanting to launch a major fashion label like yourself?
Be authentic. Don’t be afraid to fail. Even if you think you’re the best designer or have resources, don’t be shy to ask. I present many talks around the world, and I’m very open to sharing my own mistakes [laughs]. I believe that market information is rare in our region, and we need to share and grow together.
Les Benjamins has been around since 2011. What’s next?
Les Benjamins is a new wave and lifestyle. I see Les Benjamins flagship stores, hotels, creative studios, incubation centres for young designers, and many other projects…
The brand is available in the menswear department on the second floor of Bloomingdale’s in Dubai Mall.