Is Umit Benan The Most Important Designer In Menswear?

Men's clothing ebbs and flows slowly, if surely at all—it's truly a game of inches. Any editor worth half his weight in gifted Navajo print selvedge burqas can attest to that. And so it goes, to quote Mr. Kurt Vonnegut, in a realm where rarely anything, if anything at all, is new. It's hard to invent the suit, when the suit was invented at a time when British Royalty could cut off your fucking head because that's how you solved problems back in the day. Despite invention being primarily off the table (unless you're trying to dress like a goth lemonade stand), menswear designers have found themselves firmly in the corner of reinvention, where they are free to view clothing through their personal looking glass. And that's what the great menswear designers have done—why bother dealing with the inherent, problematic nature of creating an entirely new paradigm, when you can shift it instead?

At any given point in time, someone is twisting the kind of shit Alan Flusser writes about for fun, and, subsequently, the arm of this business.

The truly important designers of our lifetime, and lifetimes prior (so we are lead to believe), have understood this concept and used it to shape an entire industry in their likeness. You're probably thinking that such a grandiose statement should be left to the titans who actually changed the world—Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, Steve Jobs—but remember, we're dealing with a world that needs trends to survive. And in the land of trends, the trendsetter is king. For those of you reading this, know that you've been lucky. We're living in a golden age of menswear, to borrow another completely inappropriate phrase when talking about clothes—don't get it twisted, no one is curing Cancer here. Hedi Slimane forced us into skinny, black rock star approved gear and even forced the insufferable Karl Lagerfeld to lose 100 pounds in the process. Thome Browne took our beloved suits and shrunk them to cartoonish proportions. And what of Michael Bastian, the American iconoclast who took it upon himself to improve upon the garments held sacred by the dickheadish Bulldog breeders and gin and tonic sippers of this great nation? And can you walk into any footwear establishment these days without seeing the influence of Mark McNairy being hawked in your general direction? At any given point in time, someone is twisting the kind of shit Alan Flusser writes about for fun, and, subsequently, the arm of this business.

We're piling up everything we love, taking a step back, losing the bullshit that doesn't work and moving forward.

So, who's the guy with the most important bullseye of all printed on his finely draped back? I'm inclined to believe that man is Umit Benan, the 32-year-old, Istanbul-bred designer of his own namesake collection and Trussardi 1911. These days it seems as if no one (especially those wonderful Navajo print selvedge burqa wearing editors) can talk about menswear without mentioning "mixing," and for good reason—the current menswear landscape is in a glorious compounding state. We're piling up everything we love, taking a step back, losing the bullshit that doesn't work and moving forward. It's not purely distilled creation per se, but it's damn near close. Naturally, Umit seems to have been perfecting this technique since he first introduced himself to us in 2009, and we're inclined to believe that it's probably been happening his entire life—this kind of stuff typically comes naturally. His ability to synthesize everything from the traditional to the American to the Italian to the ethnic has proven masterful. To simply say there's something for everyone would be a disservice to the man, the artist and his craft. No, it's everything to everyone. Umit Benan is a universal designer, designing clothes for a universal world. And it's made him the most important designer in menswear.

 

  • Austin

    Don’t you mean Mac from It’s Always Sunny?