In an exclusive interview with MEGA, Rio Cuervo and Jaggy Glarino uncover the essence of their craft, the driving force behind their sustainable creations, and the stories that breathe life into every stitch and thread
Designers Rio Cuervo, the creative behind RIOtaso, and Jaggy Glarino, an innovator in his own right, have transcended conventional boundaries and embraced the exceptional. Together, they champion a movement that aims to redefine fashion, imbuing it with profound purpose and unwavering passion. In candid conversations, we navigate the heart of sustainable fashion, where style becomes a conscious choice, discarded materials find new purpose, and fashion becomes a vehicle for environmental stewardship and boundless creativity.
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On the road to inspiration
The hustle and bustle of a city wake up at the crack of dawn, its streets still cloaked in the mysterious embrace of darkness. For Rio Cuervo, this unearthly hour is a playground of inspiration. She is a connoisseur of the morning motorcycle ride, straddling the roaring engine at dawn. “I’m heavily inspired by my commutes,” Rio explains. Her commute is a tech-free zone—no scrolling through Instagram, no compulsive checking of emails—just pure unadulterated immersion in the urban jungle. She soaks up the exuberance of a city coming to life. “I can see and hear the city waking up.”
Meanwhile, Jaggy has his own unique take on daily inspiration. For him, it’s all about the material, and he’s not talking about the fabric swatches that clutter most designer studios. Jaggy muses, “Most of the time, the material dictates the design. And I like that it gets intuitive and personal more than the design process getting too thought-out or premeditated.”
Breathing life into forgotten textiles
Sustainability in fashion is not just a buzzword for Rio and Jaggy; it’s a way of life. Their favorite sustainable projects are a testament to their commitment to this cause.
Rio recalls a moment of fashion ingenuity. Her favorite canvas is the unexpected, the overlooked, the utterly mundane. Case in point: her transformation of blackout studio curtains into a two-piece outfit. She draped herself in the blackout curtains, fashioning a long-sleeve top with a bewitching open-back and a cropped silhouette—but she didn’t stop there. She also brought a curtain rod along and wielded it like a royal scepter.
Shifting the spotlight to Jaggy, we learn the potential hidden within deadstock fabrics and discarded materials. Enter: a recycled bottle-embellished mini dress that could only be described as sheer elegance with an eco-friendly twist. This look was a fusion of environmental responsibility and high fashion, proving that sustainable choices could be both glamorous and impactful.
Material as muse
Designers often speak of muses, but for Rio and Jaggy, the muse doesn’t walk down the runway; it lurks in the cracks and crevices of the urban landscape. The city streets are their catwalks, and the materials they encounter are their sources of inspiration. One might wonder how they select the fabrics and materials for their upcycling projects. The truth is, they often don’t. It’s the materials that choose them.
Rio, the mastermind behind the “Iced Gem Bags,” which boasts over 3,000 miniscule pieces of textile scraps, explains, “I can’t choose the fabrics because that’s the challenge I gave myself. I instead choose and figure out how I can find a way to make these textiles make sense together.”
Jaggy elaborates further, “There is a material-designer interaction, a poetic interaction that yields design and one-off pieces. I think that is the charm of upcycling—it gives character to fashion.”
The delicate balance of creativity and sustainability
Balancing creativity and sustainability requires finesse and understanding. Yet, for Rio, it’s a second nature she has cultivated over time. She articulates, “I think of them both equally when I design. I think it helps that I value both equally so that I can figure out how to put them into each design.” The creations are manifestos of style with substance. With every stitch, she reinforces the notion that fashion can be both a reflection of individuality and a statement of collective responsibility. “The balance comes in the textile play of it all.”
Jaggy knows that maintaining the equilibrium between creativity and sustainability is not for the faint of heart. He echoes Rio’s sentiments, acknowledging that sustainability often demands more effort. “Sustainability in fashion is a conscious choice, and often it takes more work and effort to pull it off.”
The future of sustainable fashion
What do you see in this crystal ball? Rio envisions a future where textile manipulation becomes the new black. She paints a picture of unlearning the age-old techniques taught in design schools, chucking aside the rulebook with gleeful abandon. In her future, textile waste isn’t discarded, but used as raw material for avant-garde artistry.
Jaggy hopes for “greater efforts in creating sustainable fabrics,” an industry where sustainability is an enduring standard, not just a trend. His vision is a comedy of hope, where the laughter is shared by generations of lovers donning garments that have a story to tell.
The hurdles and heart of upcycling
Every journey has its challenges, and for Rio and Jaggy, the path of upcycling is not without its obstacles. But its beating heart is a place where curiosity, constraints, and creative reimagining intersect to create stories worth sharing.
To those aspiring to follow in their footsteps, Rio’s advice is an invitation to a sensory journey, to caress, crinkle, and contemplate the possibilities these materials hold. “Spend time exploring your textiles. Question it and stay curious!” She encourages us all to question the status quo, challenge assumptions, and stay curious about the materials that surround us.
Meanwhile, Jaggy motivates aspiring designers to “embrace imperfections and be generous with your design process.” He reflects the limited material choices and supply, and how constraints are catalysts for creativity. “Limitations sometimes allow you to rethink and recalibrate your design process.” Each limitation becomes an opportunity to craft a one-off creation that defies convention. Clients, he observes, learn to appreciate the beauty of these one-offs. These pieces are like the elusive treasures at the end of a quest, cherished for their uniqueness and celebrated for their rarity.
His words are a gentle nudge to let go of rigidity and embrace the joyful chaos of the creative process. He encourages us all to be generous not just with our designs, but also with ourselves, for it’s in imperfections that true beauty often lies.
Rio Cuervo and Jaggy Glarino are not just designers, but rather pioneers of a fashion movement that begs to be seen, touched, and felt in the Philippine atmosphere. Their creations touch forgotten textiles, and their passion for sustainability fuels their creativity. Together, Rio and Jaggy have shown us that fashion can be a movement, a revolution of style and sustainability.
In their footsteps, we find hope, and in their creations, we find the promise of a brighter, more conscious fashion. In the end, we are the architects of our future, where every stitch tells a story, every garment has a purpose, and every choice is a step towards a more conscious world.
Photos RIO CUERVO and JAGGY GLARINO
Featured Image MEGA ARCHIVES