A Historic Moment: Les Benjamins Founder Bünyamin Aydin Welcomes Yasiin Bey to Istanbul

Bünyamin Aydin explores the burgeoning subcultures emerging from Istanbul with a special concert at the Frankhan.

Founded in 2011 by Bünyamin Aydin, Istanbul-based lifestyle brand Les Benjamins has become renowned for its luxury take on streetwear and expansive collections which bridge a cultural gap between the Middle East and the West. Born and raised in Germany before relocating to Istanbul, Turkey aged 12 years old, founder and creative director Aydin continues to incorporate a cultural exchange throughout a broadening artistic platform at Les Benjamins. Alongside fashion design Aydin is an avid photographer, music curator and DJ, promoting and platforming exciting artists in the Turkish city. This month the interdisciplinary talent curated together with the music collective SELECTIST a special event at the Frankhan venue in Istanbul, creative directing an entire evening headlined by the legendary Yasiin Bey (who was dressed by Les Benjamins for the night) and with guest performances by artists Sam, and Habibi Funk.

Following the event we caught up with Bünyamin Aydin to discuss his role in curating the night, his ongoing relationship with Yasiin Bey, and the community and energy of Istanbul that keeps him so inspired.

What was the initial concept for the night and how close have you come to achieving that vision?
We always wanted to host a concert with Yasiin Bey; and finally, our dream has come true. Istanbul’s hip-hop and music scene is ready to host these important legends. It’s such an honour to welcome him to Istanbul.

What kind of music did you listen to during your formative years, and how has that influenced what you listen to now?
I grew up with Rock’n’Roll, Metal, and Hip-Hop. Music has always been and will always be a crucial part of my identity. I can’t work without finding the right sound. Nowadays, I’m listening to spiritual jazz and 70’s 80s Japanese Jazz. I’m very open to discovering new sounds, and I like new forms of music.

Why Yasiin Bey for this show?                    
We met a couple of years ago, and he mentioned how much he loves Istanbul and Turkey. Black on Both Sides is one of my favourite albums ever.

Can you tell us about Yasiin Bey’s wardrobe for the show? What did you want to achieve and portray with his look?
Not much. It’s more than the clothing, for me, it was more important for him to be here and perform in our city of Istanbul. Now, it’s a historical moment for Turkish hip-hop.

What would you tell somebody curious (and clueless) about the music scene in Istanbul?
Be more curious and come to Istanbul.

How does the music/after-hours scene in Istanbul compare to other cities?
It reminds me of the early days of Berlin’s music scene when club culture and raves became more prominent. I love the emerging alternative movements and subcultures in this city. It’s the moment to be in Istanbul.

How has this community and energy in Istanbul influenced your designs and the brand?
The city’s energy doesn’t allow you to sleep. It’s a constant movement and flow of energy. It can get overwhelming sometimes.

How do you see Les Benjamins evolving over the coming years? And what subcultures do you want to invoke in the future?
Istanbul will be the most talked-about city in art, music, and fashion. It is an undiscovered gem on the Bosphorus. Meet me at the Golden Horn.

Visit lesbenjamins.com

Images courtesy of Kaan Walsh.

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