After graduating from Central Saint Martins where he won the Grand Prix LVMH Scholarship in 2019, the French/Israeli designer Benjamin Benmoyal, 32 years old, gained some experience at Alexander McQueen and Hermès before founding his eponymous label in 2020. A year later, the brand integrated the official Paris Fashion Week calendar and the FHCM’s showroom (Sphère). It is now sold at retailers worldwide.
In 2022, the young label was finalist of the ANDAM fashion award prize.
Combining upcycling and innovation, Benjamin defines a singular territory, marked by his personal history. As a former commando paratrooper, he wanted to transcribe through his work the desire to recover the naivety lost during his military service. Therefore, he has started his label by creating unique fabrics, woven out of his childhood Disney movies VHS tapes as a symbol of his stolen innocence. Since then, the brand has evolved and Benjamin kept exploring and developing different weaving techniques to create new fabrics entirely woven out of upcycled yarns and materials.
It is by retrieving elements from the past that Benjamin defines contemporary silhouettes. He expresses his attachment to his Moroccan roots through his sense of lines and volumes inspired by traditional Moroccan clothing. The woven colourful striped fabrics are reminiscent of Berber craft and aesthetic.
VT – Hi Benjamin! When did your passion for fashion start?
BB – Well, my passion for fashion started quite late, when I was 23 or 24.
I never considered l to be in fashion before I started engineering studies moving in the Army then.
In that moment I realized that I would have liked to do something with my hands, like art.
That’s why I decided to attend Central Saint Martin College and at the time there were a foundation course where you were able to experience graphic design, fashion, journalism and I clearly understood that I wanted to do something in fashion.
VT – When did you decide to create your eponymous brand? After your graduation?
BB – Not right after.
You know, Central Saint Martins gives you the opportunity of a placement year and I was working at Alexander McQueen and then I took another year out because I had the chance to collaborate with Hermès.
Only after that, after different job experiences actually, I back to CSM and I decided to create my own brand.
VT – That’s probably the right way to do because you can well understand where you want to go.
BB – Exactly, and you have to see what’s the Industry is because when you’re at school everything is completely different and far from the reality.
VT – Why did you decide to create your brand?
BB – There is something I realized studying fashion and working in fashion: in someway textile design and fashion design are operating always separated, even if they should be synchronized.
I really work on textile in the same way I work on fashion and the only way to do it correctly was creating my own brand.
Actually, I had and I have something to say.
I couldn’t work for another brand, I think it’s a mindset as well.
Since I’m very young I wanted to make things. I think there are people always ready to build their company and other people who prefer to work for other brands.
VT – And what’s fashion for you?
BB – It’s a big question. I don’t know, anything connected with clothes I guess.
It can be good or bad fashion, I don’t even think there is good fashion or bad fashion.
Fashion is the way people would love to wear clothes according to a specific time in their life. It can be influenced by sub-culture, music, art.
I think fashion is in constant evolution and related with society and history.
VT – What’s hype for you instead?
BB – Hype is something very éphémère – we say in French.
It’s something really cool in terms of high identity but it must be considered in a very short time.
It’s made by the youth and influenced by the youth with a limited life in terms of time and space.
VT – Talking about emerging designers, what’s good and what’s bad today for who is launching his own brand?
BB – You have to focus on making money: that’s the main frame of young fashion designers. Money is not a bad word, with money you can do anything.
Many designers think that having the right press, dressing celebrities and models are the steps they need to make to be successful and probably for people are not insiders they look like successful but the main point at the beginning is to make money selling the clothes.
VT – So, who is your customer?
BB – That’s something we’re developing because at the moment we’re just selling to the shops so we don’t have a direct contact with the customers.
So, what we’re trying to do is by asking to the shops who are our customers because we don’t know them.
We’re just realizing that they are not that young (about thirty) and mainly based in Middle Easy and Arabian countries, I think because of our approach to the style.
VT – The Fall Winter 2023 collection is focused on crossing boundaries between womenswear and menswear as well as introducing craft to streetwear inspired garments.
Can you tell us something more about the collection?
BB – These are two big points in the collection.
First of all, it’s a sell strategy to combine menswear and womenswear because as menswear brand we use to sell during the sale campaign in January and it would have been sad not to have womenswear items at that time.
But it’s not only for the sales because when you look at the Moroccan clothes there’s no much difference between menswear and womenswear.
Both men and women can wear dresses, both of them can wear kaftans.
Of course, these are specific women’s clothes but they are pretty similar with silhouettes that mark the body and specific lengths.
Our looks can be worn by men and women and we have specific sizes for both of them.
VT – The key-piece?
BB – It’s the big black & white coat. I’m very attached by its craft. The technic we used to realize the fabric was complicated to develop, it took quite a long time and I’m very proud of it. The coat is huge and you can well see the quality of the fabric and the its texture.
VT – In your garments you combine upcycling and innovation.
How important is sustainability?
BB – I don’t think it’s something new, not anymore.
Everyone does, or tries to do sustainability.
For me it’s a way to be more creative, since the very beginning, because by limiting myself I can be more creative.
Also in my textile design work I can be more creative and strong with less resources.
VT – It’s the first time you’re creating accessories also.
BB – We did bags last season.
For this season, we needed some enterprise products for the shops like the caps that cost €140,00 because you don’t need a lot of fabrics to make them.
It’s a good way to face the market and it’s actually fun, it’s good for gifting, Socials or whatever.
And also if you want to sell directly to your customers it’s more easy to sell a cap than a coat that coasts €2000,00.
VT – What’s your relationship with Socials?
BB – I have a kind of love and hate relationship with social media. I think it’s something we have to work on, it’s very important. It doesn’t mean you like or not, you just have to do it.
I would prefer not to use Socials but I do because I have to and actually sometimes I do enjoy it as well.
But I think some designers do it better than me because probably they use to enjoy it more than me.
VT – How do you see yourself in ten years?
BB – I don’t know. Ten year ago I never thought I’d make fashion today. I love to do things step by step. For now, I want to stay focused on my brand. I would like to develop other activities than just making garments, maybe more art related but let’s see.
Thanks a lot!