This week we had the chance to catch up with independent designer Christian Benner to discuss his Fall/Winter 2014 collection. Beginning as a visual merchandiser for Victoria’s Secret, then taking the reigns as lead stylist and sales for menswear at internationally known vintage retailer, What Goes Around Comes Around, Christian Benner has rapidly become one of the most in-demand creators in New York City’s cut throat underground fashion scene. Catering to the likes of Brandon Flowers, Mila Kunis, Jakob Dylan, Brad Pitt, Taylor Swift, Donatella Versace and many others, Christian Benner has taken his vision and created a brand with a growing global following and authentic appeal.
Why did you decide to become a fashion designer?
It’s actually pretty wild how it all started as I never really set out to become a “designer”. I was actually working for a vintage company and re-working old band shirts, giving them a new life. There was a really good buzz around them so it became sort of a side job. When I left the company in December of 2012, I really thought to myself “what’s next for me?” I knew I wanted to finally do something on my own. I then created this brand and just grew with it day to day.
What’s it like being in the fashion industry?
I don’t really like to consider myself in any industry as its all relative. I really enjoy my alone time and it’s when I get my best ideas. Granted I’m not the only one doing what I do, I feel if I try to not see what others are doing out there, I can keep a clear head.
How would you describe your brand?
Rock and roll married to high fashion
What has been the biggest highlight of your career so far?
As much as I would like to talk about a celebrity I dressed or musician I outfitted for tour, its more the little things that make me proud to do what I do. I received an email from a guy telling me that his girlfriend’s car was broken into and her backpack with her favorite vintage Led Zeppelin t shirt was stolen. He then began to tell me that I am her favorite designer and he wanted to surprise her with one of my shirts. I put as much love as possible into making that piece and a few weeks later I received an email from him with a photo of her in the top with the biggest smile on her face. I literally had tears coming out of my eyes. If I can make at least one person happy doing what I do then I know this is what I’m supposed to be doing.
What is the inspiration behind your ‘New York City 1977’ leather jacket?
Right now I am extremely inspired by old New York City. A lot of my pieces pay tribute to the late 70s early 80s CBGB era.
Describe your ideal consumer
If CoCo Chanel became the lead singer of Guns N’ Roses…
What is your favourite piece and why?
That’s an extremely hard one as I can’t pick a specific piece.. Each item I work on becomes extremely sentimental to me. I can spend a few weeks on one particular piece. It becomes therapeutic to me. When finished I could probably even tell you what was going through my mind when I was working on that certain piece.
If you could have any celebrity spokesmodel, who would it be and why?
I would love to see President Obama in a leather. Granted he constantly has to put on his game face but I know he has a wild rock and roll side hidden in there somewhere.
What store would you love to have your clothes in?
I really want to strive for high end department stores. I want to introduce the raw rock and roll scene to a demographic who normally would look past it. I feel like anyone from Park Avenue to a park bench will feel on top of the world walking around in a leather jacket.
What does 2014 hold for the brand?
I like to live my life day by day. I plan to keep doing what I do and grow with this brand. With the amount of thoughts running through my head at all times, the possibilities are endless…
If you are an independent fashion designer interested to be featured in the Ones to Watch interview series please email firstname.lastname@example.org with more information about your brand.
Nolcha Fashion Week: New York, founded by Kerry Bannigan and Arthur Mandel, is a leading award winning event held during New York Fashion Week hosting independent fashion designer runway shows.