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win a trip for 2 to nyc for more info visit ENDS 05.04.13

The book you’re holding is the second chapter in our Self Made story. The second part in our campaign to travel the world, meeting the inspirational, hard-working guys and girls that are changing cities the world over. And this time we went Stateside. To celebrate our new Spring/Summer 2013 line, we packed up and headed out to New York City. An iconic and groundbreaking playground that draws people in and never lets them go, NYC was the obvious place for us to track down the people making it happen. For anyone determined to succeed, the city can give you the world, but it takes everything in return. And here in these smog filled streets, nestled between the skyscrapers, we captured the stories and the lives of those who’ve given it their all in our new film Self Made NYC. The campaign, a love letter to the city and a fearless manifesto of what exactly it means to make it on your own, features some of New York’s most exciting creatives and shows a side to the city you won’t see in the So here is Self Made NYC. And, as always, this is for the ones that understand that life is simply what you make it.


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tour guides.



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A closer look at our SS13

Capturing this season’s looks

denim collection

on the streets of NYC’s creative capital, Williamsburg





Photographer Ben Rayner tells

Our key SS13 looks against

us what it was like shooting the

the Manhattan skyline.

campaign and how he’s got to where he is today p.30




Peering through the keyhole

We talk to the guy who built

into some of NYC’s most

one of the most famous skate

exciting and fast-paced

parks in the world.

creative spaces.



CRAFT MAKERS: StÖÖkI A chat with Stooki, deserving winners of our AW12 Self Made Competition.



Ben Fries walks us through the making of the Self Made NYC



A snapshot of our

Our SS13 women’s collection,


shot on the streets of Greenpoint.





Sculpture Jack Henry tells

Take a look around our

us how he came to make his

brand new concept store

unique and breathtaking art.

in Manchester’s Norther Quarter.


PROFILES: Sunny Shokrae Photographer Sunny Shokrae explains why she takes photographs.


NYC SPRING AWAKENING A photo story by chloe aftel

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SELF MADE CONTEST 2013 Make It Happen For You.




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JOIN US at benchoffical to keep up with Bench news, exclusive content and competitions

WIN lots of Bench stuff. Follow @bench_clothing using hashtag #tweet2win to be in with the chance to take home a weekly prize


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Plus the latest fashion trends.


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BROWSE Behind The Scenes

Purchase online at:

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plus pin to our styling boards at

CODE: SELFMADE13 FOLLOW US at bench-clothing.

SS / 2013

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Mens Collection:


Modelled on the streets of NYC’s creative capital

WILLIAMSBURG PHOTOS: Ben Rayner Photography Assistant: Adam Gong Producer: Abby Bralove STYLING: Kylie Griffiths Make-up: Erin Green Hair: Darine Sengseevong MODELS: Tristan, Malik, Joe

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Spend just a few minutes in the company of British photographer Ben Rayner and you’ll wonder why he’s not the person having his portrait taken all the time. A bundle of manic energy, rock’n’roll tattoos and long red hair, he’s the embodiment of self-motivation. His infectious enthusiasm for his work leaves you feeling inspired and full of ideas. It’s easy to see why his vivid photos look so full of life. Like all professionals who make their work appear effortless, Ben puts in hours of preparation and research before each job. As the saying goes: Fail to prepare, prepare to fail. A full-time freelancer, Ben has always worked for himself and this means he appreciates the value of each job that comes his way, whatever the size. Having made a name for himself in London shooting editorial and fashion for the likes of VICE and Vogue, Ben moved to New York a year ago to pursue his work Stateside, contributing to Nylon magazine and producing content for ASOS and Adidas, among dozens of others. In his spare time, Ben runs a boutique publisher for limited-edition zines called Rayner Books and sometimes drums in the punk band Throwing Up. For the Bench shoot, Ben and his two assistants worked 60 hours over four days – that’s 15 hours each day – and submitted a staggering 15,000 images for consideration. What’s his secret? “Eat lots of protein” he says.

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Where have you been up to this last year?

Do you ever take time off or are you kind of

Ben Rayner: A total mix of everything. I’ve

working and shooting?

been fortunate enough to work on a lot of great

I am always working in some way or another.

projects this year, a mix of personal, branded

I do travel a lot, but this is often for work.

and editorial for a number of great people. What are the basic steps you take to get a How do you feel about living in New York?

shoot like this off the ground?

I grew up in London so it’s a nice change. I

I am always prepared with my equipmentand

visit London very often so it good to have both.

make sure that assistants are briefed.It’s important to take charge and direct models

Being a freelance photographer, how self-


motivated would you say you have to be? You have to be really self-motivated and

How important are the assistants to what

proactive and can’t ever take anything for

you do?

granted. No job should be considered a

I usually have one or two assistants. This job

‘small’ job. You can never expect things to

was fairly intense so we constantly needed to

just come to you. Self-promotion is very

dump cards of shots as we shot a lot.

important and reminding people who you are! How was it shooting the Bench campaign in What motivates you?

a city you know so well? Did you find new

LIFE! Life inspires me. I walk around a lot and

locations, did you surprise yourself?h

find motivation and inspiration in everything

I am always on the look-out for suitable

around me. I am constantly creating work for

locations for future shoots. I often cycle

myself alongside commissions.

around looking for places that I feel haven’t BENCH. SS/2013

been used so much. This shoot was a mix of

How ambitious should you be, or it always

familiar locations and some new ones but

best to be realistic about these things?

shot in a way so that they aren’t necessarily

It’s important to be realistic for sure, but one

instantly recognisable.

should never be afraid to experiment.

Where are your favourite places to hang

What’s lined up for next year?

out in NYC?

A new personal book, lots of travel, and

Takahashi, this amazing Japanese restaurant

starting a long-term project.

in the East Village. Max Fish is my local. I also DJ Wednesdays at Lit Lounge

which is fun. I also like Forgetmenot and Clandestino. Does the finished version of the shoot generally match with the vision you had in your head at the beginning? Usually a few surprises present themselves, which is part of the fun, but the final images tend to match my initial vision.


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WORKSHOPS Dotted throughout the boroughs of New York, in studios and warehouses, the city’s creatives are building up their factories. Over the next few pages we take a closer look at some of these hidden work stations and how they’re set up to enable their inhabitants to create.


11th Street Workshop

Dorland Studio

Throne Of Blood

Alchemy Paintworks

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Helmed by production veterans and brothers Anthony and Lou Asaro, 11th Street Workshop is a powerhouse working with a diverse array of clients with everything from set design and construction to custom 5


fabrication, production, prop styling


and more. With a massive second floor workspace above the main workshop, a formidably jam-packed prop room and a cavernous studio space onsite, it’s no wonder that 11th Street tackles everything from fashion photography projects to custom cabinets and residential construction. For


one lucky client they’re even working on a “redneck motorized recliner”, fusing a cushy old sofa with a scooter and a fridge custom built for a sixpack.





We have lots of our work

We store a large quantity

Hanging extension cords

These table saw areas are

kicking around the studio. It’s

and variety of materials so

positioned throughout

set up for cutting the sheet

important to keep the floor

that we’re ready to fabricate

the workshop allow us to

goods stored along the rear

clear; our unfinished work is

just about anything at a

reconfigure and get power


kept on racks in the back.

moment’s notice.

where it’s needed.

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4 31






When you work with lots of

There’s always music

The pipes running along the

We use these trollies to

wood, paints, solvents, and

pumping in our workshop.

ceiling are the shop’s dust

move props and tools around

also welding tools, things can

There’s all kinds of people

collection system.

the workshop to allow the

get ugly pretty quickly.

working here, so we listen to

staff to divide and conquer

a lot of different kinds.

projects more efficiently.

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Chris Dorland is a Canadian artist based in New York City. His studio, located in North Brooklyn, is the engine room for



the conception and execution of his photomechanical paintings. Building original works by copying imagery and then duplicating these copies, Dorland assembles collages from found images, scans and prints them through multiple iterations. He then uses these heavily processed assemblages as the basis for his paintings. Mechanical reproduction technologies are a crucial component in Dorland’s process of distancing the images he selects from their original sources. 6



3. Image trash pile

4. Riso Rz-220

This large piece is a new

A painting in progress. I

Source material that sort of

The Riso is a high-speed

collage. It’s a study for a

still need to add a silver

festers in piles around the

digital printing system from

large painting commission

gradient to it. You can see a


Japan. It’s sort of a cross

I’m working on with the Art

test version taped above the

between an off-set litho press

Production Fund.


and a copy machine.

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4 33


5. Photosmart Printer

6. Nitrile Gloves


8. Flying Pigeon BIKE

I use this printer to produce

For handling chemicals and

Ronan and One Shot enamel

I love that bike.

paper copies for use in


sign paints. Hoards of cans of


spray paint, automotive paint and HVLP spray gun set ups.

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Located within a disused brewery in East Williamsburg, Throne of Blood Studio is home to a close knit group of friends including Max Pask and Andrew Potter of Populette, Kim Ann Foxman (ex-Hercules 34

and Love Affair), and Brian Hersey. This studio is set up to allow these four musicians to string a diverse collection of new and vintage electronic instruments together in order to record collaborative jam sessions. Whereas much electronic music eschews live performance in favor of carefully constructed perfection, the output from Throne of Blood embraces the spontaneous, improvisational serendipity that can emerge from unconventional combinations of equipment and ideas.



3. Mackie 32-8 Desk

4. Arp 2600 Synthesizer

A total classic and famous for

Assorted compressors, filters

Our old faithful. A bit worse

The rarest and most

being the first synthesizer to

and effects units, as well as

for wear, but crucial.

impressive bits of kit in the

be widely sold to musicians.

two patchbays for linking up

studio. One of these was

all the kit in the studio.

used to create R2D2’s voice in Star Wars.

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3 1


5. Moog Source

6. Bob Moog

7. Daft Punk

8. Poo and Pee plushies

A classic but deeply flawed

Action Figure of synthesizer

Daft Punk action figures to

Always there to let us know

80’s era synth.

pioneer Bob Moog is always

supervise studio sessions.

when something is total shit.

here for inspiration.

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6 Brooklyn’s Alchemy Paintworks has operated for the past several years from a landmark building off of Bushwick Avenue. Founded by Jason Brown after a decade



spent running Jeff Koons’ state-of-theart sculpture painting facilities, Alchemy


employs techniques learned from his work with world-renowned fabricators and restorers, as well as his extensive research and experimentation with the latest materials and technology. Fusing art and science into a seamless whole, Alchemy now lends its unique expertise to a wide range of established artists, working in partnership with them to bring their singular creative vision to life.





Workspaces littered with

A lot of coffee gets

These cabinets and flat files

This is an industrial vacuum

transfer tape, Xacto knives

consumed in the shop every

hold every kind of sandpaper

for cleaning up dust

and burnishers for masking

day. It’s essential fuel for

grit imaginable, from 40 to

produced by sanding

off areas to receive different

some very painstaking work.

diamond dust.

finishes or colors.

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5 7


2 1





This cabinet is actually a

These yellow storage

The staff here are hard

The dividers separating the

paint mixing apparatus.

cabinets along the far wall

at work on a restoration

room are made of industrial

It contains disposable

contain all the various

job. They are sanding and

plastic and .09 micron filters.

containers filled with custom

chemicals used in our work.

cleaning in preparation for

mixtures for each project.

paint application.

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Do you need to be well organised to shoot a film such as this one, or do you rely on others to be organised on your behalf? Ben Fries: All you can do is be as prepared as possible and then, once the shoot starts, be ready to improvise. Nothing ever goes exactly as planned but if you’ve thought everything through in advance then it’s much easier to think on you feet. For this particular film,


we were capturing ‘a day in the life’ of five


people in two days so organisation was really important in terms of coordinating everyone’s schedules, making sure that we could get to where we needed to be at the right time. The schedule was extremely tight and we had a

Director Ben Fries talks

few hiccups along the way but we were able to keep things moving and get everything we

us through the Self Made NYC video shoot

needed. Did you storyboard the shoot? I generally don’t do storyboards, especially for a shoot like this. When you’re dealing with real people and observing them doing what they do, you have to see what’s happening in the moment and let that dictate your


shots. What I do think about is the locations we’ll be shooting in. If possible, I try to see Filmmaker Ben Fries had his work cut out when he shot

the locations in advance so that I’m able to

the documentary for Bench. Tasked with telling the story of

visualise how to shoot in the space: where

a regular day in the lives of five busy New Yorkers, we gave

is the light coming from, what are the most

him just two days in which to squeeze the entire shooting

interesting angles, that kind of thing.

schedule, crossing all four corners of the city. That meant a lot of running around town with his crew in a bid to film the

How do you go about assembling a team to

subjects in various locations as they went about their daily

work with you?

routine in his intricately-crafted video piece. No matter how

I have a team of people that I like to work

much preparation goes into it, filming on the streets is always

with. On a film set it’s important to surround

unpredictable. And Hurricane Sandy was just around the

yourself with good people who you trust.

corner. How important is it to have good relations Fortunately this wasn’t the first time Ben had used his

with the team, or is it more a case of relying

hometown as a backdrop. In his acclaimed video for the song

on everyone being professional and getting

‘Cyan’ by the British musician Kindness, Ben shot the singer on

the job done?

the streets of the East Village, while an earlier promo for the

Both are important. I feel you usually get

band Holy Ghost! depicts a freeze frame timeline of their life

the job done better if you are able to have

in NYC. He may know the city like the back of his hand, but

good relationships with the team but you

on such an intense shoot, Ben needed his best team around

also don’t want to crew up with your buddies


just because you like to hang out with them. Again, you have to trust your crew to do their jobs well because that allows you to focus and do your job well.

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Is it better to be ambitious or should you have a more realistic outlook? It’s always good to be ambitious. As you start planning and figuring out the logistics, you’re always going to face limitations but you deal with that then. Hopefully you can use those limitations to steer the work in interesting new ways. What hours were you working each day on this shoot? We worked roughly from 7am until 10pm. Long days, even thought it only lasted for two of them. We had to cram in a lot of shooting. How do you get through the shoot in one piece? I drink a lot of coffee. Watch the film at:

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“Me, Sesse Lind (the Director of Photography) and the rest of the crew hanging precariously from a moving car, filming Jeff Henrikson riding the streets of Brooklyn.”

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“Getting whipped up in a breeze as we shoot Sunny on the East River Ferry.”

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“They may be similar in style but no two of Jack’s work are the same. It was fascinating to capture him working.”

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“The subway is the fastest way, unless you want to play dare devil on a bike, of getting around the city. We took it across the river with Kish.�

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together. You can see them working together in the film.�

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“Jeff and Kish have worked together before and we wanted to capture the chemistry of them


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Womens Collection: Shot at the foot of the bridge into the city

GREENPOINT PHOTOS: Ben Rayner Photography Assistant: Adam Gong Producer: Abby Bralove STYLING: Kylie Griffiths Make-up: Erin Green Hair: Darine Sengseevong

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MODELS: Dayna, Lauren, Kendall

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Once upon a time, the weary and


poor of New York would head for Brooklyn. Rough around the edges, the borough became the destination for immigrants looking for a new life and a


fresh start in America. In recent years, like many deprived areas in major cities, the artists began moving in, attracted by cheap rent and large studio spaces. The neighbourhood’s diverse cultural and social mix made it fertile ground for a burgeoning creative community who soon gentrified the area and stimulated the local economy.

Beneath The Surface

In the heart of this hotspot, nestled on a quiet street in Bushwick, we find the studio of fast-rising artist Jack Henry, whose provocative paintings and abstract sculptures are attracting attention.

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What is it that you do?

Was there a heavy influence from your

Jack Henry: I’m a sculptor who uses found

family on what you do?

objects and cast materials to make monuments

My dad is the director of the museum in Flint,

in honour of post-industrial America. I also

Michigan, my hometown, and my mum is an

work part-time as a freelance art installer,

interior designer. So art and aesthetics have

making pedestals and stretchers for other

always been a focus in my family. Growing

artists. I want my work to look like something

up, I was always playing with Lego, building

found, as if carved out of some unknown time

a tree fort, drawing or making videos with

and place. The theme in all my work centres

friends, but I didn’t start making art seriously

around an idea that our objects will become

until I was in college.

the artefacts of our time. I’m retracing my steps, picking up objects that have been left

How did you learn the skills you needed to

behind, and thinking about moments in my life

do what you do?

that I’ve seen common curiosities: a roadside

I think that any skills I’ve learned have come

memorial, a tattered billboard or a random

out of necessity. I had an idea that I wanted to

collection of objects in an empty lot that

execute and had to figure out how to make it.

when combined create a poetic moment that transcends the original purpose of each object.

When you look back at your earlier work, how do you feel about it? I’ve always made things, but a lot of the stuff when I was growing up was pretty random. Most of the work I did in high school and college I wouldn’t want to show people now. But, occasionally I’ll go home and come across a little painting that I did as a kid and

How does going solo affect your lifestyle? It’s always tough picking up freelance work. Sometimes I don’t get a call until the night before and may not have many details until I get there. But being freelance does allow me a lot of time to be in the studio and I can turn down jobs if I have a show coming up or a commission where I need extra time. Why you end up in Brooklyn? I moved to New York on July 4, 2010 – about two and a half years ago. I moved straight to Bushwick and have been there ever since.I graduated from the University of Maryland and was going to be looking for work wherever I ended up living. So I moved to New York because of the opportunities. There are so many galleries, artist-run spaces and pop-up shows with really good work in them. How are the people around you important when you’re trying to make it? There is a great community of artists in Bushwick and I think I benefit from being around people who are serious about the art BENCH. SS/2013


kind of like it.

they make. There are so many artists making good work all the time that it motivates me to get back in the studio. Plus, I figured that if there was an audience out there that would appreciate my work, with all the people in New York, I should be able to find that audience here. Do you think you’d be at the point you’re at in your career if it you didn’t live here? I feel like there is a sense of urgency in New York that I didn’t feel in other places. Time seems to move a little faster, and I get more done. And there are a lot of things to do in the city. I’m never bored.

Does the city influence your work? Well, for me, it provides a wealth of discarded objects. There is never a shortage of things to pick up that inspire a piece. And I see the best art in the world. The museums are excellent and there are tons of galleries. In one afternoon I can see a variety of 64

exciting artwork that I didn’t have access to in smaller places. Where are your favourite spots? There are some great bars in my area: Bodega, Pearl’s and Miles. I can always manage to have a good evening with my friends and girlfriend. And I like going to Chelsea to check out what’s new at the galleries. But it’s New York City and one of the best things about it is there is always someplace cool that I haven’t been to. It never feels like the same routine.

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Even if you’ve never been to New York, you

How do you spend your time in the city that

know exactly what the place looks like. The

never sleeps?

Big Apple has to be the most photogenic

Sunny Shokrae: Taking photos, looking at

city in the world and thanks to cinema and

photos, fixing photos, storing photos, backing

TV, endless images of sparkling skyscrapers,

up hard-drives. When that’s all done and I

yellow taxis and jets of steam rising poetically

feel good for the day, I’m all about watering

from the subway are burned into our minds

my plants, exploring the city I live in, making

from an early age. It’s one giant film set, and

trouble and remembering to call my family at

whether we like it or not, each of us falls in

least once a week.

love with NYC at some point. With its iconic skyline up top and




Which path led you here?

tremendous energy down below, it’s little

When I was young I got into photography

wonder that photographers travel here from

to keep an archive of my personal history

all over the world not just to snap away at

as it was happening. It was a way for me to

the famous sites, but to seek inspiration in

visually communicate the admiration and

every corner of every deli and bond with like-

affection I felt towards the people and things

minded souls. Iranian-born photographer

around me.

Sunny Shokrae was one such person who

It quickly turned into something that I

made the journey towards the bright lights

never stopped doing. I was mostly self-taught,

and over the last four years she’s made

and eventually after a degree in politics

the city her own. Her candid approach to

and working for a few years in LA, I moved

verité photography has been celebrated

to New York to do an intensive year-long

in VICE magazine and Sunny has recently

programme at ICP [International Center of

collaborated with fashion houses Opening

Photography] in photography. I’ve just been

Ceremony and Vena Cava.

learning and growing ever since, whether from a job I just did or the people around me doing the same thing. It’s always evolving and getting better and better. What is it about photography that you love? I can’t imagine doing anything else. It’s amazing to visually relate to, excite, inform or communicate with people I’ve never met and never will meet. It’s a way to talk to the world however you want to. It’s endlessly satisfying and the day that it isn’t anymore, I will find a better or new way to do it.

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How do you keep yourself motivated when managing your own career? You have no one but yourself to kick your ass into gear. You have to create your world, to meet the people that facilitate and nurture your work. And you have to know the business side as well as the creative side. But the feeling you get after you nail a project or assignment or shoot ¬makes you feel so accomplished and driven to move on to the next thing and nail that too. What role has the city played in pushing you to succeed? I moved here in May 2008 because it’s the place to be if you’re pursuing photography as a career. There are so many doors to open; there’s so much going on. There are so many people doing exactly what you’re doing that it really pushes you to work your ass off and try to set yourself apart. It’s a constant motivation and the resources and opportunities here are endless. You just have to make it happen. I’ve learned a lot about what I do and who 68

I am by being here, but I think that happens with any big change or move. I assumed I would only last in NYC two years max, but every year that goes by makes it harder to imagine living anywhere else. It sucks you in pretty hard. Where are your favourite spots? It’s an impossible question as it’s constantly changing. I love it all. Which cameras do you always carry in your kit bag? The list is long, but if I were to name four that are always in rotation, they’d be: Canon 5D, Mamiya 7, Hasselblad 500C/M and the Yashica T5.

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Creatives from around the world make the journey to New York to be inspired by its imposing streets and driven inhabitants. We asked Chloe Aftel, fashion photographer, to explore the boroughs, documenting the sights through a mixture of digital, 35mm and polaroid photographs.

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“I wake up to New York!”

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“I used to walk by it and during the warm months, the people who live there would come out to sunbathe, it’s just such a funny little spot on a busy street.”

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“Of course there’s tons of graffiti in NYC, but in Queens, by PS1, there is some incredible stuff, entire blocks covered in art, all different styles. It’s one of my favourite places to check in with every few months.” 75

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“George Washington Bridge.”

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“Little Red Lighthouse by George Washington Bridge. What a funny little place to find a lighthouse. The bridge is always lovely, but this odd lighthouse and the park by it are charming and understated.�

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“Stained Glass, Greenwood Cemetery”

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“Pepsi Sign in Queens - This is by the water, the building next to it is hideous, but there’s something about looking through it at the city.”

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“Vernon blvd in Long Island City is one of those beautiful areas of a changing city. There is a lot of construction and development. I always enjoy shooting around



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“Brooklyn Sandwich Shop - A lovely little spot, with delicious food, I try to get there every trip to the East coast.”

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“Grand Central. Always a pleasure to travel through Grand Central, going upstate or around town.”

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dress blsa1436 cheried

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A look at the SS13 collection against the backdrop of iconic Manhattan

CITY SKYLINE PHOTOS: Ben Rayner Photography Assistant: Adam Gong Producer: Abby Bralove Make-up: Erin Green Hair: Darine Sengseevong

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MODELS: Dayna, Lauren, Kendall, Tristan, Malik and Joe

dress BLSA1392 HIPSTA

STYLING: Kylie Griffiths

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knitwear blfa1179 fancytown shirt blaa0924 camberwell


jacket bmka1543 ashdon jeans bmma0224-3 breaks v3 top bmga2761b juror b


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t-shirt blga2556 rigmorolled shorts blla0102 prancers


her: knitwear blfa1188 fairuza him: jacket bmka1564 mizze shirt bmaa1086b roundhay b


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top blsa1456 christener


shirt bmaa1085 otley shorts bmla0142 aintree


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t-shirt bmga2985 postcard jacket bmka1578 tbc shorts bmla0142 aintree


dress blsa1439 pincrop


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jacket bmka1556 mizah



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t-shirt bmga2943 pontcanna


t-shirt blga2561 timerama


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Located just north of San Diego at the foot of America’s sunny west coast, the city of Encinitas is famous for two things: surfing and skateboarding. The Beach Boys immortalised local hotspot Swami’s beach in the lyrics of 1963’s ‘Surfin’ USA’, and a steady stream of homegrown skateboarding champions in the ’80s and ’90s such as Tony Hawk and Danny Way cemented Southern California – or SoCal – as the sport’s spiritual home, flocked to by one man in particular who nailed Encinitas – quite literally – to the world skating map. To anyone connected with the San Diego skate scene, Leonard Prednis is a legend. An unsung hero who nurtured the skills and facilitated the dreams of scores of wannabe skaters. At the age of 25, he founded, built and maintained the skatepark at Encinitas’ Magdalena Ecke Family YMCA, which at the time in the early 90s, was regarded as one of the finest skatepark in the world and is still popular today. On the back of developing from scratch one of the first successful skateparks, Leonard became something of a guru in this field. Although he’s no longer involved with the YMCA, he regularly receives requests for tips from budding skatepark enthusiasts and is only too happy to dispense advice. Leonard had never built a skatepark and had little practical experience when he embarked on the project as a volunteer at the YMCA in 1990, but he’d been a passionate skater since 1976 and had been a part of the scene as it blossomed throughout the ’80s.

BENCH. SS/2013


thousands of skaters every year. But there’s

“I loved skating empty swimming pools

Leonard was working at a software

and vert ramps with friends,” says Leonard,

company when he saw the YMCA position

now 49. “What worked out well for me

advertised in the local paper. Soon he was

was that I was not your typical in-your-face

organising skate contests for 12-15-year-olds

skateboarder. If the police showed up, I was

and fixing the centre’s old ramps and building

like, ‘Cool, sorry, what do you need us to

new ones in what was once a 3,000 sq ft car

do?’ So we’d clean up and then the police are

park. From administration to maintenance,

thinking, ‘Hmm, maybe skaters aren’t so bad.’

Leonard was doing anything and everything

This positive attitude and natural ability

to improve the skatepark. No job was too

to foster a sense of community stood Leonard

small or unmanageable for the self-styled

in good stead when he took on the role of

“skatepark elf”. As there was little or no budget for

skateboard coach at the local YMCA. “I wanted the parents to trust me because they

repairs – this was a voluntary position after

were trusting their kids in a programme I

all – whenever Leonard came across some

was developing and riding on the things

wood or other suitable material, he would

that I was building,” he says. “I wanted

invite the young skaters to sketch their own

school administrators to feel comfortable

designs for ramps which he would then build.

recommending me to parents.”

Responding to their feedback, Leonard would change the ramps accordingly. “I always started with speed and flowlines,” he says, “but then I would get feedback from guys who wanted more street maneouvres.”

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Leonard quickly put his resourcefulness

Capitalising on skating’s growing

to good use. “Through the YMCA’s contacts

popularity and keen to raise the sport’s profile

in the community, I’d end up talking to

in the eyes of the establishment, Leonard

contractors who’d let me know when another

started a programme called Skate PE (physical

company, for whatever reason, had to get

education) through one of the local high

rid of a lot of wood. So I met someone who

schools. “Rather than have kids run around a

owned a trucking business and then they’d

track and do 50 push-ups bored to tears, we

arrange for a flatbed to bring the wood over.”

set it up so kids would come to the skatepark

The park’s SoCal location meant that the

and get PE credit,” he says. “I would bring in

local professional superstar skaters would

PE instructors and say, ‘Our guest instructor

often drop by for a session – like everyone

today is Tony Hawk’ and he’d be standing

else, they needed somewhere decent to skate.

right there and the kids can’t believe it.”

“We’d develop a personal relationship with

As the park grew and attracted more

them,” says Leonard, “so if they were going

skaters, so too did the amount of paperwork

to do a photoshoot, I’d help them out by

Leonard had to undertake. As wild and

building a ramp or rearranging something.”

rebellious as skaters like to think they are,

Leonard has fond memories of Tony Hawk

the YMCA is a community organisation that

goofing around for photos with two young

demands accountability and so each time a

guys who’d travelled all the way from Alaska

skater so much as scratched a finger on the

to skate the park. On another occasion,

premises, this had to be documented. With

during one of the regular skate camps

this in mind, Leonard devised a ramp rating

Leonard would organise, Kris Markovich

system by borrowing the ski slope grading

made a surprise appearance as an instructor,

model – a black diamond would be the most

to the delight of the kids.

difficult. 101

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a point when he couldn’t go anywhere

His stack of paperwork also proved invaluable when he was able to provide

without people saying thanks for making the

evidence of the dangers of skateboarding to

skatepark. And he’s still a keen skater who

insurers in order for the sport to be classified

can often be found skating with his kids and

as a hazardous activity so that legislation

the other fathers his age.

could be passed in California allowing skateparks and ramps to be built in the state.

“Skaters always have to keep pushing

“After that controlled study, we had

themselves to try new and different things,

skateparks popping up all over the place,”

but it’s difficult if the environment doesn’t

says Leonard, “and unintentionally, I was the

change,” he adds. “I’ve always loved the idea

guy who started it. Over the course of time

of changing up the environment.”

I’ve had calls from all over the world from people asking about skateparks, safety and costs.” Leonard left the park around 1997 but by then its glowing reputation had spread around the world and Leonard’s legacy was assured, although being shy and modest, he’s the last person who’d admit that. He doesn’t get stopped in the street as


much these days, he says, but there was

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From noticing wax on a kerb to clocking paint on some steps, skaters see the world differently, and if I were running a park again I would incorporate that into it. I’d teach kids the basic principles of making dynamic structures.

for a Top Skatepark


Skateboarding is so innovative and creative because it takes advantage of the environment, and there are things you can do to make your environment more skateable. 1 DO YOUR HOMEWORK

There are some basic structural principles that

People see the surface, but they don’t

people often miss. Say, if you have thousands

actually know what’s involved in it or

of people skating, your stuff wears out right

what’s behind it. So the first step is do your

away. If you can get people to understand

homework if there’s something you want

those basic principles, they can do things to

to take on. Research and find out what the

make their environment skateable

materials cost, for example. 5 DON’T BE A JERK 2 BE A GOOD CITIZEN

If you put up a little launch ramp and the

You’ve got to be good citizens. Some people

owner of the property gets mad at you, don’t

hear a skateboard coming down the sidewalk

start swearing at the guy. Apologise. Be

and they’re annoyed. Other people, like me,

cool. Unfortunately, when guys are flipping

hear it and step aside and hope the skater

themselves off stairs and getting hurt they

does a trick. But be aware not everyone likes

think they can take that toughness to the

skateboarding the way you do.

security guys.

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Leonard’s Five Tips


East London collective, The Stööki Craft Makers, is a creative ménage-à-trois between old friends Luke (24), Nadia (25) and Quincey

AW12 Winners:

(24). Finding common ground in a love of art,


to push the boundaries of design, launching

Craft Makers

label based in London.

fashion and film, in 2011 they joined forces Stööki Jewellery and Apparel, an independent Far from being a closed creative process, everything the trio does is collaborative, presenting themed capsule collections that are born through interactive art and immersive events that encourage anyone to get hands on and creative. And people


are beginning to take notice with the team having worked with collaborators such as Red Bull, the Tate, the V&A, MTV and Nintendo on artistic interventions for the Stööki community. And they’ve only hit the ground running just over a year ago.   So far they have independently produced two jewellery and apparel collections, with no investment, no hand outs and only their intuition and guts to guide them. And it’s these levels of dedication that made them the clear choice for this season’s Self Made £1000 prize fund.

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So what is Stööki?

events, which incorporate that element of

Stööki is a creative movement formed by

interactivity, are based on the individual items

three talented individuals. We’re split in two

within each collection.

different divisions, one side a Jewellery & Apparel Label and the other an art collective.

What’s the Stööki Curate series?

The label consists of small capsule collections

Stööki Curates is us three showcasing our

that are hand crafted and the collective

individual strengths within an artistic context.

(known as the Stööki Craft Makers)

The first one we did was heavily themed

around collaboration; we wanted to grow our

What do each of you bring to the table

community by engaging with them through

within the trio?

various mediums.

Myself and Nadia met at Sir John Cass Jewellery School and later met Luke through

How do you create your collections with no

mutual friends. I left university and was

funding behind you?

building experience within TV and marketing.

We have part-time jobs, so we all chip

Nadia was focusing on refining her craft,

in to buy materials and tools to produce

doing jobs for well known fine jewellers.

the products. The only downfall to that is

Luke always had a sharp eye for visuals since

always being limited on stock, however,

graduating from Central Saint Martins and

our audience are drawn to the element of

through Stööki his music production skills


started to flourish into Stööki Sound.


Have you hit any major obstacles along Where do you start?

the way?

We start the process with a brainstorming

We have met many! We’re taking risks and

session and it’s normally after being inspired

still learning as we go along. Being out of

by the locations we meet in. This could

out our comfort zone and knowing that our

range from the cinema, arcades and galleries

incomes are going to feel like they have been

we visit. Each piece we design and make

cut in half. In the long-run we knew it was

has its own story or theme behind it. So the

worth the sacrifice.

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Where do you find your inspiration? Between all three of us we have different sources of inspiration. Nadia loves pop art and the opportunity to work with Yayoi Kusama at the Tate was amazing. Luke has a passion for sound and he has found many

others personality traits and ways of working,

ways of integrating it with the brand and I get

but we have formed a brother and sister

excited with interactive art and immersive

bond. It’s kind of funny that I mention that as

theatre productions such as PunchDrunk and

all three of us are only children.

Creators Project. The combination of things I just mentioned are so vast, yet they really do

What’s next for Stööki?

translate into what we do within Stööki.

We aim to connect with a few more countries in Europe and America doing events over

How has doing this changed your life?

there and spreading the Stööki vision to a

It’s opened us up to a lot of opportunities,

new audience. We’d love to have a concept

such as this. We feel like finally we’re free

store, incorporating a creative studio, event

to make and present what we want. We’re a

and retail space.

close knit team that work very well together. It took us a little while to get used to each

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MORE ON BENCH We don’t just want you dressed for success, we want you equipped with the tools to get out there and get shit done. Our hard-wearing accessories are designed and crafted for the people who use them, combining both style and function for fast-paced city living. So whether on foot, bike or board, our bags are made to 110

travel with you and withstand the pace.

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PORTLAND middle 13S1BMXA 0711 right 13S1BMXA 0712

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PORTLAND below left 13S1BMXA 0713


CROSS bottom left 13S1BLXA 0729 middle 13S1BLXA 0707 bottom right 13S1BMXA 0708

SPINNINGFIELD far left 13S1BLXA 0703 second left 13S1BLXA 0701 second right 13S1BLXA 0700 far right 13S1BLXA 0702

PRINCESS left 13S1 BLXA 0698 middle 13S1 BLXA 0697 right 13S1 BLXA 0699 113

MANOR left 13S1BMXA 0708 middle 13S1 BMXA 0710 right 13S1 BMXA 0709



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As part of our global roll out of the Self Made manifesto, we undertook a heavy-duty project to tear up our shop in Manchester’s bustling Northern Quarter and build in it’s place a bold and unique concept store dedicated to promoting and supporting


people on a mission to make it happen.

New-look store upstairs showcases the new lines and capsule collections.

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Screens showcase the campaign and content from the exhibitions


Dr Me Collaboration

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Working closely with universities and the creative community, our transformation of the store’s previously unused basement into a constantly evolving exhibition and event space aims to give a platform to local creators on the rise and provide a blank canvas for like-minded people to come to together. The open spaces and raw fixtures made 118

from materials salvaged from the previous shop by our hard-grafting team, bring to life the ethos of Self Made.

The latest range from Mies Nobis, as featured in our AW12 book, on display

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31st January

21st February

21st April




A collection of individual

Focusing on the ever changing

An Exhibition of the Manchester-

photographic works by the

landscape and community that

based illustration collective,

MA photography students of

lives within the overspills of

Sketch City.

Manchester School of Art.


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What is it that drives you and

£1000 to push you on your way.

The Stööki Craft Makers aka

where is your journey taking

Global exposure. Industry

Self Made trio Luke, Nadia and

you? Tell us your story and

guidance from mentors

Quincey. Stööki is an

share your talent and we will

Independent Jewelery & Apparel

give you the money to take your

label. Presenting themed capsule

ambitions to the next level.

collections through sound, vision and play.


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SS / 2013

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Bench White city Unit 1061 Westfield Ariel Way London W12 7GB 0208 743 8494

toronto Yorkdale Mall 1 Yorkdale Road Toronto, ON M6A 2T9 647-477-4137 or ext # 110 cAlgAry Chinook Center 6455 Macleod Trail SW Calgary, AB T2H 0K8 587-952-0559 or ext #111


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SERBIA FM Company Igor Ihas +381 63 179 63 36

FINLAND & BALTICS Studio25 / M&R Suominen OY Sami Suominen   +35 840 596 0700

SPAIN/ANDORRA/PORTUGAL Movimiento Sismico Amaia Garmendia +34 650 470 888


CANADA Freemark Apparel Brands Inc. Aristea Fotopoulos +1 514 341 7333

BENCH. SS/2013



BENCH. SS/2013

Bench Self Made NYC Spring Summer 2013 Brand Book  
Bench Self Made NYC Spring Summer 2013 Brand Book  

Bench Self Made NYC Spring Summer 2013 Brand Book