1. His collection was sparked by a chance encounter with a little boy during a holiday in the Dominican Republic.

“I went to the Dominican Republic, and I travelled a lot to find some inspiration. My collection was based on some children who were on the streets, and one boy in particular stood out. I saw him on the street, and what he was wearing caught my eye, so I took a picture. I think he didn’t have enough clothes, so he wore two sweaters. One to cover up his upper body and the other he used as his pants; this was a key thing that I translated into my collection. He was really interesting, so I went up to him and spoke to him. I told him about my project and he was very enthusiastic. He’s really poor, and living in a favela. He is one of seven children — I met four of them, his mother and grandmother. He doesn’t have the money to school, so he works a bit on the street. He collects bottles and broken glass for recycling. I’m going to bring my collection back to Dominican Republic to show it to him. I’ve made a connection with him.”

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2. Besides the characters and architecture of the Dominican Republic, he was also inspired by the violent Mighty Mongrel Mob of New Zealand.

“They are a violent biker gang from New Zealand. I describe it as a tribe, but it is more contemporary. They have their own rules and it is sort of a family. They influenced me, but I created my own unique idea of a tribe. I created slogans like “Enemy of Terrorism” and “Enemy of Racism” to reflect what’s happening right now to make it more current. I wanted to turn the violent aspect of gangs into something positive. I referenced their leather jackets, but I did it in a more luxurious way — I used a kind of suede in my collection, and the patches on their clothes also inspired me.”

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3. He almost made architecture his profession…but moved to Antwerp to pursue fashion instead.

“I’m from Curaçao, but I’ve been in Holland since I was two. I go back frequently because my family lives there. I studied architecture, and then I studied the technical part of fashion in Holland. There are things I don’t do anymore, but my style of drawing has remained the same. Looking back, the 2nd year of the Academy was more experimental — you could do whatever you liked. This year was more technical and had to be more put together; I’ve learnt more about myself, so it feels a little different. I played it safe last year, it was easy, smooth and I stuck to things that were familiar. I’ve stepped outside of my comfort zone with this collection.”

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4. Sticking to his own beliefs has been the most constructive lesson of the three years he has spent in the city and college.

“The hardest thing was to stick to my own beliefs. I listened to Walter van Beirendonck, but I really did my own thing. He was more involved in other collections. Fortunately, it turned out well. Everything I do has to do with my feeling. It has to do with my background and people I’ve seen on the street. I make my choices by following my intuition and how I feel.”

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5. He was awarded a trip to New York City to work with IFF (International Flavors & Fragrances Inc.).

“I’m going to be working on a fragrance with them, which will be released in 2017. If my collection could be distilled into a fragrance, I think it would be a natural, fresh and almost powdery scent. I’m also interested in working with Dries van Noten or Raf Simons over this summer. I want to pursue my Masters next year, which I would really like to do in London, and after that, I want to go to Paris or New York.”

Words by Aravin Sandran

All images courtesy of Rushemy Botter

Photography by Lee Wei Swee

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