Les Benjamins New Assortment Wears Its Heritage on Its Sleeve

Les Benjamins founder Bunyamin Aydin has always found ways to bring his multi-heritage story and those that share a similar one to the forefront of his collections. Last year Aydin brought this to new heights with his vision of the contemporary East gracing the Olympics in the form of graphics worn by the Turkey Olympic team. The graphics were also emblazoned across the nation’s official team airliner. This year Aydin has gone even deeper into his heritage, focusing in on his own identity and the challenges that arise from holding onto it in a country and culture that doesn’t feel like your own.

The inspiration for Les Benjamins FW22 collection comes from Aydin’s grandfather. He came from a small village in East Anatolia, Turkey, to Germany as one the first of a long line of guest workers coming to the country to help rebuild after WWII.



Marius Knieling




Marius Knieling




Marius Knieling




Marius Knieling




Marius Knieling




Marius Knieling


Initially only brought to Germany for two years, the majority stayed and made Germany their home. This leads to a deeper meaning that Aydin says he has carried with him since his childhood. The idea of duality and multiplicity, of integration and de-integration. Aydin says on his childhood, “In my early years in Germany, I always hid my identity and that I am of Turkish roots. Society is stuck on stereotypes, which have affected my childhood and hurt me. Over the years, I stopped this repetitive narrative and decided to celebrate my identity by designing collections that are inspired by Eastern stories and building an aware community that celebrates inclusion.”

His grandfather’s story isn’t an easy one to tell. It’s a story of sacrifice and hurt. Having arrived it took him four years to bring over his wife and daughter to Germany. The duality of his story, leaving loved ones behind at home vrs setting up a new one in a new country, is what forms the basis for the collection. The brand describes it as “Leaving Anatolia, which expresses the art of the long goodbye at the train station, where guest-workers and their families would wear their finest tailoring. And living in Germany, which draws on the duplicity between the utilitarian workwear that helped guest workers assimilate to their new host countries, and the nostalgic elements of ‘home’ that they held sacred once they finished the work day.”

This duality of tailoring and utility makes for a beautiful array of pieces that are an ode to different migrant jobs. Heavy knitwear, jumpsuits (which feature the number 60 to celebrate 60 years since the arrival of migrant workers in Germany), hard-wearing accessories, tailored wide-leg pants, and trucker inspired vests all feature. Graphics come in the form of subtly majestic prints often seen in the homes of guest workers, “a safe space that represented heritage, tradition, and respite,” while a mix of “German and Turkish typography share equal space on garments in a bid to illustrate the train journey taken to leave the country.”

While last year’s fashion weeks were full of odd collabs, this year went for the shock value, and brands seem to revert to story-telling for the sake of a strong marketing campaign rather than an honest design story, Les Benjamins is one of those going against the grain and wearing its heart on its sleeve. For its FW22 collection, Aydin’s heart is on full display.



Marius Knieling




Marius Knieling




Marius Knieling




Marius Knieling




Marius Knieling


The collection is accompanied by a film directed by Melih Kundakcioglu that tracks the true story of Aydin’s grandparents, shot in their home of Erzurum, Istanbul, and Berlin. It charts the sacrifices they made in the past that made Aydin the man and designer he is today. Never one to hide his identity, always one to be himself.

To conclude, Aydin says of the collection, “My Turkish-German identity fuels my creativity, and I’m proud of my Turkish roots that define who I am today. This upcoming collection reminds us and pays homage to all our Almanci grandmothers and grandfathers’. Their memories are forever.”

Click here to explore and shop the new collection.

Source: Highsnobiety

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