Andam prize-winning label Botter is making ‘Caribbean couture’ from algae, kelp and seashells

[Many thanks to Peter Jordens for bringing this item to our attention.] Pie-Ru Keh (with photos by Jessica Madavo) reports on ‘Caribbean couture’ by Botter for Wallpaper. Menswear label Botter is headed by Rushemy Botter (born in Curaçao, Amsterdam-based) and Lisi Herrebrugh (born in Amsterdam, and steeped in the cultures of the Dominican Republic, where her family has roots).

Botter is part of ‘The New Fashion Vanguard’ – four international fashion labels and designers presenting a new way to dress, as featured in ‘The Future Issue’ of Wallpaper* where we meet the rising stars shaking up the creative industries. 

When Rushemy Botter and Lisi Herrebrugh first started their menswear label Botter in 2017, they saw the label as a diary of sorts. Bringing together a mix of influences spanning literature, music, food and history, Botter has been a reflection of Caribbean culture since its inception (as the tagline on the brand’s website describes, ‘Caribbean Couture’). Viewed through the duo’s multicultural lens – Rushemy was born in Curaçao but spent most of his life in Amsterdam, while Herrebrugh was born in Amsterdam but grew up frequently travelling to the Dominican Republic, where her family has roots – the saturated colour palette and vibrant motifs one might typically associate with the region take on a new dimension when paired with the duo’s mastery of Belgian and Dutch tailoring. 

‘It’s a combination of both our upbringings,’ says Herrebrugh. ‘We both experienced different cultures while growing up. We both had a combination of having a Caribbean upbringing alongside a strict Dutch-ness. These contrasts between the colourful and the sober, the more fluid and the rigid – you can really find these in Botter.

‘The ocean is also [a big influence],’ adds Botter, while explaining the label’s signature motifs. ‘Growing up on an island surrounded by water and then growing up in the Netherlands, who are historically the kings of the ocean, there was always this aquatic link.’

Aside from its cultural standpoint, what makes Botter even more compelling is that its fabrications have been rooted in sustainability from the get-go. The now gender-fluid label has recurrently worked with the environmental non-profit, Parley, to create garments, like tailored suit jackets and trousers, made from ocean waste textiles. In 2020, the duo established the Botter Coral Nursery in Curaçao, funded by a percentage of its profits, to help restore coral reefs and maintain fish habitats. Even its signature Botter blue shade, an uplifting shade of azure, is created from FDA-approved food dye. For its Spring/Summer 2023 collection, the duo introduced a jersey fabric made from 100 per cent algae, which they cut into crew-neck shirts, and another textile made from kelp that they used in ankle-length tube dresses.

Herrebrugh says, ‘We are very proud of presenting these new developments. We spend a lot of time talking to bioengineers and researching different yarns made from algae, kelp, the coatings of seashells; these are all innovative materials that we are interested in. A part of our collections will always be made from ocean waste plastics, but we are also pivoting towards bio-fabrications, which are in line with how we think.’

Botter’s avant-garde collections have won Herrebrugh and Rushmey, who were formerly creative directors of Nina Ricci, accolades of their own. The duo took home the grand prize of the 2022 Andam Fashion Award, beating out 12 others. Coupled with their drive for innovation, exquisite silhouettes and adventurous ethos, we’d call that a wise investment.

[Models: Kieran at Youth Models. Casting: Feranmi Eso. Hair: Kim Rance at LGA Management using Authentic Beauty Concept. Make-up: Marina Belfon-Rose using RMS Beauty. Photography assistants: James Robertson, Sam Callahan. Fashion assistant: Yun Zhang. Hair assistant: Anastasiia Gryniuka.]

Botter – the joint label of Rushemy Botter and Lisi Herrebrugh – takes innovative, sustainable fabrications and melds them with clothes inspired by the designers’ Caribbean roots.

Source: https://www.wallpaper.com/fashion-beauty/botter-designer-interview

Also see previous RI post https://repeatingislands.com/2018/09/14/caribbean-flair-at-nina-ricci-paris.

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