Milan-based Umit Benan's spring collection—a mix of easy layers and cool Cuban influences—won Italy's first young menswear designer competition and part of the prize was a show at this week's Pitti Immagine in Florence. We caught up with the German-born Benan to learn a little more about this up and comer.
You moved to Milan from New York just before launching your line, how was the transition?
It was tough. I've lived all over and I'm very used to being surrounded by open minded people. They didn't know what to make of me at first, but it's been 3 years now, and I'm starting to feel more a part of Milan.
Describe the Umit Benan look.
Aggressive, masculine, confident and low key. But the clothes are never more important than the character. I think personality comes first.
Spring was based on a young Cuban businessman. Will all collections revolve around a character?
Yes, one character or idea. I start designing his life first and then decide what he would be wearing. Fall 2010 (showing this week) is based on retired rockers, like the Stones and Ahmet Ertegun, who discovered them.