The Antwerp Fashion Academy is full of international talent and the Dutch fashion student Rushemy Botter is the latest designer to back up that statement. A couple of weeks ago he got to show off his collection in the VFILES show during New York Fashion Week.
Rushemy Botter is currently still a student at the Academy but there’s no doubt that this kid is going to go far. The famous fashion portal VFILES selected his collection out of hundreds of submissions and invited him to show off his collection during New York Fashion Week. For Botter it was a dream come true: New York Fashion Week has opened a lot of doors for me”.
How was your first time at New York Fashion Week?
Botter: “It was really cool and everything went smoothly. When I did my first show at the Academy I thought nothing could go wrong, but a couple of things did not go as well as I had planned. I learned from my mistakes and the show during New York Fashion Week was perfect. We were constantly working towards the show. Every day we went to the studio at 10 am until midnight to make sure everything was top notch. It was hard work but at the same time so much fun.”
During NYFW you were mentored by Naomi Campbell, Jerry Lorenzo, Young Thug & Mel Ottenberg, Rihanna’s stylist. What was their input?
Botter: “Every now and then they swung by the studio to talk about the collection and to give tips. I had a great connection with Jerry Lorenzo, the designer of ‘Fear Of God’. It felt like I was talking to a buddy of mine. Mel Ottenberg gave me a lot of inside information about the fashion world. I only met Young Thug the day of the show but it was so great to be able to talk to him because he’s one of my biggest inspirations.”
How was the feedback?
Botter: “Very good. They were excited about the way I translate concepts into clothing. They expect me to break through real fast but that’s something only time can tell.”
Which moment stuck to you the most?
Botter: “When my mom decided to suprise me by flying to New York to attend my show. I was so happy that day. It was such a blessing to be able to share those important moments in my life with my mom.”
I can imagine. There was also a point during the show that Young Thug climbed on stage to style one of your models. What was that all about?
Botter: “His stylist told me it was his way of showing respect to me because I let him wear one of my pieces that night. I was totally shocked and honored. It’s a beautiful gesture and the press & the internet loved it.”
You can say that again. How does it feel to go viral?
Botter: “Extremely bizarre. It’s such a weird feeling to wake up realising that you were all over the internet. It was never a dream of mine but it did cross my mind at times and now it really did happen.”
Your collection is inspired by Mighty Mongrel Mob, one of New Zealand’s most notorious gangs. What is it about them that fascinates you?
Botter: “I saw a documentary about them and their way of thinking really intrigued me so I started digging deeper. They’re known as a very violent gang but if you look past their looks and their image, you will realize they have a really big heart. They’re like a tribe that protects eachother from a society where they don’t fit in. I have so much respect for the facts that their values and norms mean so much to them. When something moves me, I automatically translate it into my clothing. That’s why I decided to design banners & patches with my own values and norms embroidered to build a sort of tribe but from my point of view.”
There’s also an activist side to your collection. Do you think it’s important to make a statement?
Botter: “Making a statement is never my initial goal but it’s something that comes natural to me so it was very easy to weave that aspect of my personality into my collection.”
What fascinates me about your collection is your take on gender norms. Is gender fluid clothing the future?
Botter: “It’s definitely on the rise. I’ve been buying women’s clothing for ages. If I like a women’s coat, I buy it without any hesitation. Celebrities like Young Thug and Jaden Smith who’ve often been seen rocking womenswear and who are very popular will definitely play a big part to make the taboo of gender fluid clothing disappear.”
Does your admiration for Young Thug spring from him always his unapologetic self within the hip hop scene which has a very tough image?
Botter: “Absolutely. I’ve been making feminine & elegant menswear for as long as I can remember so to me it’s very inspiring that he has the guts to be the person he is within the hip hop scene. It’s people like him who bring evolution. Take a look at Kanye West: Everybody within the scene initially mocked him for wearing skinny jeans and now tons of rappers are rocking skinny jeans.”
Now that you can scratch New York Fashion Week off your bucket list, what’s next for you?
Botter: “When I graduate I want to start a brand with my girlfriend, who’s also a fashion designer. I have a feeling that together, we can conquer the world. I know those are big words, but I’m convinced that it’s possible. New York Fashion Week was a huge first step in the right direction and it opened a lot of doors.”