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Les Benjamins Dedicates Latest Collection To The Plight Of Migrant Workers

In the wake of World War II, unemployment rates in South Europe, particularly Turkey, rose exponentially, which is why a huge number of the migrant workers that relocated to West Germany between 1955 to 1973, were of Turkish origin - including the grandfather of Les Benjamins founder and creative director Bunyamin Aydin.

The German-Turkish designer explained, “He was a welder, and was one of the first guest workers from Turkey. Him taking the courage to leave his small village in east Anatolia, where they had almost no literacy rate, still serves as a major inspiration to me.” In his latest collection, Aydin is paying homage to the migrant guest workers, otherwise known as “gastarbeiter” in German, in the streetwear label’s fall 2022 collection, titled “Herzlich Willkommen.”

The brand’s latest offering is split into two parts with a view to convey the stories of the migrant men and women who left Anatolia and eventually settled in Germany. The designs are constructed to be both functional and fashionable, and features tailored blazers and trousers for women, graceful gowns, and structured coats that suggest the garments worn by the guest workers and their families as they would have adorned themselves in their best clothes before saying their goodbyes and boarding the trains from Istanbul to Munich and moving to various parts of the country to find work.

The collection also consists of utilitarian workwear such as leather gloves, cargo pants, jumpsuits, puffer vests, coats with multiple pockets, and bomber jackets that are constructed from longwearing fabrics that are designed to last. This concept was inspired by the clothing worn by the migrant workers as they took on jobs including truck drivers, garbage men, welders, and tailors who helped rebuild Germany after the war.

Creative head, Aydin, also noted the plight of the migrant workers who came from countries such as South Korea, Morocco, and Greece via abbreviated patchworks on workwear. Pieces from the collection feature the number 60— which pays tribute to 60th anniversary of migrant workers arrival in Germany, which was last year.

Speaking about how his collection explores themes of identity, fashion and history, Bunyamin added, “None of them spoke a word of German, so the courage and bravery they had to leave everything they knew is incredible. Their clothing is almost military-like in that their clothes became their armor. So this collection is truly an homage to what made me who I am today. I too have tried to fit in and assimilate. I’m questioning what it means to fit in, and what it means to let go of your identity.”

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