Where most see a punctured bike inner tube as a frustrating and inconvenient nuisance, designer Brigid Oesterling of Brigid KO sees an opportunity. Her dark, edgy line of clothing and accessories take advantage of the leather-like rubber from bicycle, motorcycle, and tractor tires to a create dark and sleek aesthetic. Using her background in sculpture, painting, and ceramics, she manipulates the material to resemble leather and achieve a high-fashion, almost fetishistic look.
Motorcycles and bicycles have always been a part of Oesterling’s every day life. Combined with a commitment to the environment and a sense of style, she began to sew together waste material such as paper and plastics eight years ago. One day, as she was in the process of discarding an inner tube from a motorcycle tire change, she noticed the inherent beauty in its markings, stamps, patches, and rust. Soon after, she began to make handbags and then an inner tube corset for a fundraising event. Her success led her to expand her vision, and establish a full collection.
Oesterling relishes the challenge of manipulating a non-traditional textile into something that can become attractive, and act as an inspiration to others.
“My work incorporates a variety of elements. So, the looks are sculptural and sensual and invoke a unique meshing of eroticism and a clean, futuristic feeling. I like clean lines, and I love subtle details. I take extra time to do detailing like beadwork or leatherwork, and I think that adds a unique contrast to the rawness of the materials, especially the inner tubes.” she told Ecouterre.
By working with reclaimed tubing and leather, her designs not only reduce waste, but allow each garment and accessory an individual personality.
“Because I use recycled materials, often the shapes, colors and textures are dictated by what is available. For example, if I cut up a leather jacket, I have only so many shapes and pieces to work from. Or, if I am using the inner tubes, they are molded to a specific shape for their purpose, so I have to work out a way to manipulate the shape to fit the human body, and that hasn’t been easy. A piece becomes appealing to me when there is a wonderful balance of fine detailing with bold shape.”
The striking black, low-cut rubber combines masculine and feminine elements to present a tough, powerful ensemble. Appearing primitive and apocalyptic, striking shapes and classic tailoring bring classic biker fashion from the road to the runway.