International Design Competition Apparel Winner 2022 : Gal Benjamin
26th September 2022
The results are in – this year’s International Competition’s Apparel Category Winner is the talented Gal Benjamin, with his entry Alexithymia. Gal will be joining the other 3 Category Winners at the live International Final event, presenting their design in front of the judges for the chance to become the Overall Winner.
Gal Benjamin is a 24-year old designer currently based in Israel, who specialises in Menswear Atelier, Pattern Cutting, and Gender Neutral/ Mixed FM Fashion. His work explores the distinctly stereotypical masochistic worlds of motorsport, and as a contrast, the works of Pierre Solage and Hans Hartong, pioneers in the genre of lyrical abstraction, characterised by free, emotional and personal compositions that are unrelated to objective reality. His designs are made using advanced pattern cutting and sewing techniques in leather, emphasising zero waste techniques as well as items designed with consideration and sewn fully from leather leftovers.
INTERVIEW WITH GAL BENJAMIN
Tell us about the inspiration behind your project:
As part of generation Z, I could not ignore the burden that young men and boys of my generation are being forced to carry. Along with the ongoing process of hypergloblization, extreme social media exposer and the increased access to all aspects of culture, Gen Z progressed to a point where the very notion of identity has changed. Definitions of identity have become more fluid than they have ever been.
Gen Z is the first generation to be exposed to such wide, varied and fluid definitions of masculinity, and is the first to grow up knowing there’s nothing wrong with it. However, there is an inevitable burden carried by Gen Z boys and young men, that are raised and educated by men and women belonging to older generations, to whom masculinity has been characterized and brutally defined according to conservative western culture. Heterosexuality, stoicism, athleticism, sexual activity, and overall dominance defined young boys and men’s ideal masculinity, firmly restraining responses to pain or distress, with the sometimes unconscious notions that expressing emotion or any empathy undermines their male identity.
The consequences of these toxic conservative notions are vast, and I chose to focus on one, Alexithymia. Men who had been discouraged as boys from expressing and talking about their emotions showed difficulty in identifying and expressing emotions throughout their lives which has been termed as Normative Male Alexithymia” (Levant, 2011). My visual research includes works of art by Pierre Solage and Hans Hartong, pioneers in the genre of lyrical abstraction, characterized by free, emotional and personal compositions that are unrelated to objective reality.
The narrow silhouette of my design plays with the proportions of the male body, exposing and hiding parts of the male body, allowing authentic masculine freedom to express itself.
What do you think makes leather a great material to design with?
There are so many elements that make leather the ideal material to design with. As a natural material, leather breathes and has its own character. Each leather hide is different and has its own unique characteristics and look. Leather is incredibly strong, durable, flexible and tolerant to a wide range of techniques. But above all of its physical properties, leathers has an attitude, a sense of authentic luxury.
What are your thoughts on leather and sustainability, and how you think leather can adapt to a fashion industry increasingly focused on sustainability?
Movements and socially-led values are shaping contemporary culture; gen Z consumers are concerned more than ever about brands’ sustainability and ethical values. I believe that leather is somewhat an inevitable solution in the process of encouraging slow fashion that will once again make the consumer care, love and appreciate the clothes, and stop the present waste culture.
How has this competition influenced your view of working with leather in the future?
Reading through RLSD educational materials, while striving to submit the best possible design was truly a learning experience. It made me understand better the current moment, the way that the world in changing, an insight to what is next in for us future designers, as the need to address climate change becomes more urgent. Encouraging sustainable consumer behaviour by adopting a more conscious approach to fashion consumption is probably the most important lesson that I have learned as part of my participation in the competition.