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Dope Tavio: a Dash of Sustainability with a Splash of Creativity

model/Designer: @dope_tavio
photographer: @dmitryzhitov_photo

words: @cybil.007

octavio aguilar

Nestled in the heart of downtown Miami is this city’s very own Project Runway Season 19 star, Octavio Aguialr: the designer with the red mustache we all have come to love. Tavio is a self-taught Puerto Rican American designer from New Jersey who dabbled with his first sewing machine at the age of twelve. As he got older, he quickly started making ‘90s club wear, which led him to open up his first shop in his hometown.

Tavio introduced his brand, DOPE TAVIO, after a ten year hiatus in 2016 which was inspired by his muse, rapper Sharaya J, in her music video BIG. Sharaya J also helped introduce DOPE TAVIO by wearing the brand during NYFW, her red carpet events, and her performances throughout the country. 

DOPE TAVIO is a genderless avant-garde street-wear line that has been featured in many fashion editorials and music videos, and have been seen on artists like Eryka Badu, Garbage, Kelela, Rico Nasty, Sutan RAJA, Carmen Carrera, Leyna Bloom, and Ty Hunter and Janet Jackson in addition to his muse, Sharaya J. He presented his first collection during NYFW in February 2018 and has been featured in fashion editorials for VOGUE , ELLE, CHAOS, L'OFFICIEL, BILLBOARD, OUT, XEX, IN BLVCK, LADY GUN, SLIMI, PLAYHAUS, ELEGANT, 7HUES, HUF, THIS BITCH, TENZ, SATELLITE JOURNAL, and S Magazines. Now most recently showcasing his NYFW 2022 circus punk looks in Miami Vibes Magazine .

Octavio is represented by Patricia Field in New York at the ARTFASHION gallery. His goal is to inspire people to chase their dreams at any age. His work stands out in a crowd and commands attention. He is a force to be reckoned with.

How did you stumble on the world of fashion?

I think I was pretty much born into the fashion world. My mom was a single parent so we

octavio aguilar
octavio aguilar

would go shopping for looks in the east village, NYC. I became her little personal stylist at a young age and that's where I fell in love with fabric and unconventional designs. 


That was also when I was first introduced to the Patricia Fields shop on 8th street. I was in fashion heaven there and now I'm part of her art fashion group.

Who and what have been your biggest inspirations?

Mainly 80s and 90s pop culture. MTV, Madonna, Jean Paul Gaultier, Grace Jones, Boy George to name a few.

What challenges have you faced along the way?

Breaking into the industry while seeing other big brands copy my work season after season. It's hard but I just keep going and pushing my name out there.

Why black and white?

It's my two favorite colors. I love mixing them together, as well as solid on their own. Big black and white bold prints are my thing. I do bring in pops of color and metallics every other season.

Being that this month is Earth/sustainability month, please let us know what aspects of your brand make it sustainable?

In both my avant-garde and my ready-to-wear pieces, I use recycled materials. I also use vintage clothing so that I can Upcycle. I never throw away any scraps so I can use them for art displays or other fun accessories.


I also always give other designer friends of mine scraps for them to use in their projects.

Ok, so I am the biggest fan of Project Runway. I cannot sew for my life, but I LOVE  all that creativity and quick thinking that goes into making those garments on a whim. How did it feel to be on the show? Was it everything you imagined?

Being on the show was so crazy dope. It was a once in a lifetime experience and I still pinch myself because I still can’t believe I actually did it! It was more than what I imagined and the best part (besides showing off all my work and talent) was meeting all these great designers and becoming friends with them for life.


octavio aguilar

Tell us about your New York Fashion Week collection.

I was asked by Susanne Bartsch To be part of her New York fashion week show. I jumped on the idea and started my collection where I showed eight different circus punk looks. I included some red to this collection. I also collaborated with other brands for styling. Wearechains did the jewelry, Esenshel designed these hats for the show, Madashellpeople did the platform boots and Alfonz Dovana did the pierced bikinis.

Any advice for aspiring designers?

Know your style and aesthetic as a designer before creating a brand. Go after your dreams, because dreams really do come true.

octavio aguilar
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