Christian Benner is a true rebel when it comes to societal norms, one whose attitude is kick-ass, and whose religion is freedom. He’s got a too cool for school vibe, but in a positively awesome and addictive way! His designs are both special and personal, as he invests a great deal of time and thought into every one; by picturing who will wear his next garment, he draws his inspiration. His collection also gives high praise and gratitude-filled nods to the old school rock and roll movement of New York. With designs that are edgy, unconventional, and modernized versions of vintage cool, Benner is more than just a designer who creates thoughtfully. His words are a reminder that it’s cool to be who you are—whoever that is.

To connect with Christian Benner or to see his apparel, head over to Christian Benner Custom.

BEAUTIFUL SAVAGE: Tell me about the inspiration behind your journey.

I have been living in New York for ten years and fell in love the second I came here. From what it was in the early two thousands to what it is now—it’s a completely different world. Rock and Roll has been dying. I became a history nerd sort of about the early 80’s, late 70’s with the whole Heebie-Jeebie’s movement. You know, everyone hung out at the CBGB’s bar and it became a community. That doesn’t exist anymore, so I do a whole hats off to that with my designs. I want to build that community back. Fashion and music are great forces. A lot of kids aren’t necessarily familiar with it. And I could go on and on and on about how society tells these kids what’s cool to wear. So I want to introduce something different. I want to send
the message that you can be yourself. You can be an individual and you don’t have to follow what society tells you.

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What makes you a unique individual? I mean, what makes you so apt to keeping your abstract views despite what society thinks is right?

I had no idea who I was or where I wanted to be. I studied fashion but I didn’t take it seriously. I didn’t get where I was in the world. I really wanted to fit in, and to be a part of something but I didn’t really know what. My cooperate job in fashion made me like a robot, very “cookie cutter.” I had to
wear certain things and talk a certain way. I was miserable. And so I was pushing my thirties and I had no idea what was going on with my life and I really needed to be better—and I wanted do something and kind of fell into this whole clothing thing. I was working for a company called What Goes Around Comes Around, and I started making these t-shirts that I could sell, and they started getting a following. Everyone’s like “You should go do this on your own.” So I thought, “You know what, maybe I should. Maybe this is what I’m supposed to be doing.” It all just started happening. I never really planned any of this. I don’t really plan anything I do. I just kind of do it, and it’s all being inspired by all of the years of society telling me what to be and what’s “normal,” and what the right things to do are. I’ve become an anarchist because of it—I don’t really talk to God but I’m like “Fuck society telling me who I’m supposed to be.” It’s all about being an individual. Freedom. When I make a jacket it’s a personal thing. I think about the person who’s going to wear the jacket. It takes me about two or three weeks to make the jacket and it’s with me all day long. I could probably tell you what I was thinking when I made that jacket. The piece becomes more special that way. If I can reach at least one person, to have that same feeling then I know I’m doing something
right.

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Based on that, can tell me about your current collection?

1977, New York City—it goes back to what I was talking about earlier, the Heebie-Jeebies. It’s a tribute to the old school New York rock and roll scene. You know? How it used to be. The freedom and the community that was built in lower Manhattan. There were no rules, people didn’t care about what others thought of them, they just expressed themselves. They just did it. So my collection is kind of saying “Who cares, there are no rules of who you have to be.”

What does the future hold for your designs?

I’m doing a lot of things with music and creating lines to go with that. I’m trying to jumble some thoughts together for a ready-to-wear line, leather pants, and stuff that can be on more of a retail level as well.

So in the end are you happy? Do you feel you are finally who you’ve wanted to be?

100%. I mean, I’m just going to say this: I’m content with who I am and what I have. I don’t need much to make me happy and just the fact that I’m doing something that I love and other people enjoy, that’s all I need. I don’t need riches, lots of money and fame. That’s just a bunch of bullshit that society tells you you’re supposed to have.

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All images and video courtesy of Marcus Cooper

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