On June 23, luxury streetwear label Les Benjamins revealed its first womenswear collection on the Paris leg of the menswear shows, and shared its preview online ahead of the showcase with Vogue.me. The Istanbul-based brand, headed by Bünyamin Aydin, has gathered an impressive global following since its launch in 2011, thanks to its urban threads that infuse Arabic influences into so-wearable key pieces.
Les Benjamins Arabic logo tee 261 AED/SAR; 71 $ USD
With a Nike collaboration under Aydin’s belt for the Nike Air Max 2017 anniversary competition, the future looks set to go on a solid incline for Les Benjamins, especially considering the industry’s current thirst for the premium take on street grunge and skater cool. Such a rising appetite for this contrasting combination has seen the likes of Vetements collaborating with Levi’s, Louis Vuitton teaming up with NY-based label Supreme to tap its cult following, and Rihanna taking to the drawing board at Puma. As the high-end labels seek to collide with the edgy brands beloved of Generation Y-types, the fashion desk notes Arab labels, both established and box-fresh, that are tapping into fashion’s current youth culture resurgence.
Established in 2016, Flaws has barely completed its website and tipped its Instagram followers past 4,000, and yet it has the flavor of a brand with a solid identity. The new streetwear label seeks to challenge social norms and celebrate imperfections with its back-to-front S logo emblazoned on the sleeves of candy-colored hoodies and Arabic slogans dotted across unisex jersey tops.
Founded in 2016 by by Saudi sisters Thana and Sakhaa Abdul, Coded Nation was set up as an e-commerce site to unite global street style brands that have peaked the duo’s interest, including the in-house brand Coded Nation Club. “It’s for the daredevils and rebels of the world. It’s not something for everyone, it’s everything for someone,” Thana told Vogue Arabia. “I’ve always wanted to do something under the name Coded Nation, which is inspired by countries being mapped by dialing codes. At the time, I didn’t exactly know if I wanted it to be a brand or a concept store, I just loved the name,” she said. The focus is on unisex pieces with bold slogans – “Red swords, I suggest you call my lawyer” – in English and Arabic that are created at the label’s London studio. Act fast, though – these pieces sell out quickly.
Riyadh-based street label 2D2C2M was set up by college friends Abdallah Bagalb, Ahmad Al-Wohaibi, and Maan Al-Qurashi as a side project to their software engineering jobs. “We’re just kids having fun. We are trying to reflect our daily conversations, ideas, and what’s going on around us into our graphics,” Al-Quraishi shares with Vogue Arabia. In a similar vein, Saudi Arabian designer Mohammed Khoja revived Sadu woven tribal patterns on bomber jackets for men and women for his second collection under his label Hindamme. “By integrating these elements, my hope is to reverse the tables, in a sense, and inspire the West to look more towards Middle Eastern design,” Khoja shared with Vogue Arabia after his 2016 launch.
What these brands have in common is more than just a sartorial sub-genre. Each designer is in a free-speaking conversation with the wider world, and lacing in Arabic social reflections in a satirical or supercharged way. After all, humor and hoodies are potent partners.