Innovation can arrive in strange and complex ways. New technologies and the products realized by them can make us both turn and scratch our heads. And perhaps the best way to make the public aware of a new technological development, is to design something that’s – well – just a little bit weird. Like BOTTER and Reebok’s Venus Comb Murex Shell Sneaker.
Part vintage Reebok football sneaker, part thing from the deep, this somewhat unsettling new shoe is 3D-printed using a new process developed by HP called Multi Jet Fusion Technology. Unveiled at BOTTER’s FW23 presentation at Paris Fashion Week, it embodies the Paris-based brand’s “Caribbean Couture” spirit in both its shell-like silhouette and its ocean-inspired colors.
BOTTER is the creative expression of its founders, Lisi Herrebrugh and Rushemy Botter. Botter was born in Curaçao in the Caribbean, and the island’s oceanic identity weaves its way into their collections. This isn’t the first time BOTTER has designed footwear that turns heads. There was the “Banker” shoe which featured whole Nike VaporMax or adidas football cleats sitting on a flatted Derby. And just last year, it cast water-like resin molds around the mid and outsoles of shoes.
Keeping things sea-inspired, this latest creation is modeled on the Murex shell that the goddess Venus used to comb her hair. (Although a quick glance might remind you more of fish gills or even one of fungal-infected humans on The Last of Us – it’s an acquired taste whichever way you look at it.)
Footwear manufacturing usually creates a lot of waste, and plenty of nasty chemicals are used in the gluing process. The goal of 3D-printing this shoe with HP was to prevent the production of excess waste. Shoes are made to order so there won’t be the problem of deadstock post-sale. TPU is the main material used to create those layered fronds although BOTTER and Reebok haven’t been explicit about what that consists of; whether it’s biodegradable or recycled.
It seems a little bit contradictory to make a shoe with technology that reduces excess waste, using a design that is over-excessive in its materials use. The shoe extends way past the wearer’s feet and is stacked so high that it almost looks like two shoes in one. 3D-printing could play a key part in how brands design sustainable products in the future, but we might also need to cut back our excessive consumption for it to make any real difference.
Commenting on the partnership, Herrebrugh and Botter say: “The Reebok x BOTTER Sneaker is an opening of a wonderful project. The new partnership with HP 3D Printing aims to create a product that sits at the intersection of innovation, sustainability and luxury and this is just the first step.”
The Caribbean isn’t just a source of aesthetic inspiration for BOTTER: “As a brand whose DNA directly rises from one of the world’s most biologically diverse marine regions, BOTTER does not bear to witness the pollution of the ocean, setting targets to embrace and preserve nature in all its forms.” Last year, BOTTER launched the Coral Reef Farm on Curaçao, to fight against the global bleaching problem of coral reefs. A percentage of profits from its collections will go into this scheme. It also soon aims to design 80 percent of its collection with sustainable ocean waste plastic materials sourced by Parley.
Our heads have been turned by BOTTER and Reebok’s Venus Comb Murex Shell Sneaker. But can they keep our attention by finding other, more sustainable ways to utilize the innovative HP printing technology?
[Images courtesy of Patrick Kenawy/Highsnobiety]