Founded by Swiss-born duo Christa Bosch and Cosima Gadient in 2016, fashion brand Ottolinger has become known for a mix of innovation, craft and cool. It’s been nominated for the prestigious LVMH Prize in 2018, and worn by celebrities including Kim Kardashian and Bella Hadid. Bosch and Gadient are also part of the ISKO Visionary Minds programme, which partners with emerging designers. Our latest collaboration comes in the shape of an ISKO Vital+ face cover - proof that style and safety will work together in 2021. We caught up with Bosch to discuss the face cover, taking inspiration from science fiction and the power of partnerships.
How did the face cover project come about?
We have a longtime collaboration, and ISKO asked us if we would like to do the face cover. The print is the signature print we used from summer 2019. It’s a vibrant, fun, flowery print.
It was inspired by the awakening of spring. Can you tell me a bit more about that?
The [idea of a] face cover somehow feels quite heavy but we thought we could give a more positive sign to it - spring feels like the world is coming to life again.
Did designing a face cover feel like an important thing to do?
I guess it became important for all of us. It’s like an everyday object now and we thought we would like to create something fun to wear rather than it remaining [only about] its protection factor. We liked the fact that [the ISKO face cover] is reusable and that you can wash it up to 30 times. These paper ones give you a strange feeling. You buy it and you throw it away.
What makes ISKO an interesting company to work with?
They have so many technologies and research, so many fabrics. I like that they are very motivated to make denim sustainable. They use less water, they do a lot of research and work with technology. We have been able to utilise that.
Is collaboration part of how you like to work?
It’s really important…[ISKO] like our ideas and we like that they have very good technique and such a great team. It’s also the same with Cosima and me. She has certain qualities and I have certain qualities - it’s always very good to team up and make each other stronger.
How would you describe the Ottolinger aesthetic?
We find a way between couture handiwork and ready-to-wear. Because we do a lot by hand, as a lot of young brands do now, it feels couture but it shows that couture [techniques] don’t have to be super-elegant, [they can be] something you can wear in the day. We also want to empower people to be themselves.
Is it true you are inspired by science fiction?
Yes we read a lot of science fiction books. It’s interesting because they can be very surprising in ideas. That’s what we also like in clothes - we like to surprise people and offer something new. Science fiction books are perfect for this because they offer a new view of the world as something not existing yet, or maybe never. I’m currently reading short stories by Chinese science fiction writer, Hao Jingfang.
What are your hopes for the brand this year?
This is a tough question because the year is pretty hard. I guess we all hope the virus will go away and we all have a more free life again, and as little people get infected by the virus as possible. For Ottolinger, it’s about big collaborations - we have an exciting artist collaboration coming up - and to streamline the brand. We’re just really happy to see people empowered and surprised….People can discover something else in life that gives hope.