The collaboration came about after a renowned jiu-jitsu professional and childhood friend of Umit Benan’s from Istanbul saw his Tokyo Diaries collection (Fall/Winter 2016). For that season Umit Benan was inspired by the men in martial arts coming to drink after practice in the Shinjuku Golden Gai quarter in Tokyo, wearing classic coats in the rain over their training gear.
The light and the atmosphere is out of a Blade Runner scene and nighttime envelops the competitors still wrapped up in their kimonos on their way to the bars. Umit Benan’s friend put him in touch with Vince Quintugua of Shoyroll, the LA-based cultish brand leader in martial art technical clothing and their mutual affinity ignited the creation of the Umit Benan x Shoyoroll co-branded capsule.
“I had months of phone calls with my friends who actually do jiu-jitsu to understand their needs. Along the way I had to make changes to the designs to be more respectful to the jiu-jitsu and Shoyoroll fans. You have to understand that this is a sport for tough guys, it’s not like they’ll wear anything. But I wanted to give them something, slight variations to the norm that they can have fun with. I’ve always liked the idea of collaborating with different worlds than mine. To learn more and be creative in other realities rather than just another fashion collaboration.”
Umit Benan has played with subtle color and material variations for the kimono and pants combo, by experimenting with silk gros-grain piping and new colourways in treating the brand’s appliqued logo patches. Surprising details that add the faintest touch of fashion to a very rigorously clad world. He has also added a completely new element with a rainproof poncho-style cape to wear over the kimono in the rain, made in Italy from the finest technical materials. At the back of the pants a patch bearing Umit Benan’s motto “Nothing is as it seems” joins forces with that of Shoyroll: “Be first. No less”.
The Umit Benan x Shoyroll collaboration has launched in July 2021 and will be an ongoing dialogue between the two distant but related worlds in experimenting with the boundaries of masculinity.