RIOtaso is a play on the Tagalog word 'RETASO', meaning scrap fabric, stitched together with the name of the creative mind behind this zero waste fashion movement – ‘RIO’. (that’s me!)
Back in 2015, my sister started to take home trash, she collected stacks of plastic waste from her classmates to assemble eco bricks at home. It was at this point that she also started planting food, composting, and became a vegan. Though she may be younger than me, her radical change in lifestyle strongly influenced what was to come.
You see, the ugly side of the fashion industry was never taught in design school, ideas such as climate justice and unethical labor practices were never on the syllabus. The truth had to be learnt independently.
Among the many clothing line attempts I had in the past, one stood out as the most successful - Kalye RIO; a streetwear clothing brand that I established in 2015 and with a heavy heart, shut down in early 2018. The brand grew to be a great creative and commercial success, but behind the seams I slowly grew disillusioned with the amount of fabric waste my business was involved in. I had my very own ‘fashion-is-a-crime’ breakdown, withdrew myself from the city, and moved to a small beachtown community where I learnt to live sustainably. Through routine beach cleanups, I saw firsthand the negative impact of plastic waste on the environment and the community to the point that it was no longer a cute or trendy weekend activity.