Sustainable Design Workshop Organico Studio wears the Sunshine State on its sleeves – literally.
His designs have earned a reputation for incorporating iconic Florida brands such as Publix, Sedano’s and Zephyrhills, as well as native and invasive species such as the green iguana and gopher tortoise. Designers and co-directors Brian Valencia, 28, and Angela Sofia Muñoz, 26, use recycled materials to create multifunctional clothing with a self-proclaimed “tropical industrial streetwear” twist.
“Being a fashion designer is about being a problem solver,” says Valencia, who founded the studio in 2020. “We definitely mix our tropical background with a bit of camp because they have flamboyant features and extreme color contrasts.”
An outfit went viral in February when Club Space doorman Alan T showed up at an Éstudio Órganico Publix themed jumpsuit. From the bucket hat to the removable pants, the cut was adorned with the bright green tote bag from the grocery store.
Valencia’s genderless silhouettes are rooted in structural sustainability and architecture, which he studied at Miami Dade College.
“Our skirts turn into tote bags, for example,” he explains. “It’s something that I find really cool and interesting for a man to wear and be able to change your look. It’s really just a piece of fabric.
Many Éstudio Órganico garments can be unzipped or reversed to go from sleeves to tote bags, from pants to shorts and from pockets to handbags. Valencia is inspired by her Colombian family, who taught her to design with versatile and eco-friendly efforts. He highlighted the impact the world is having on the South American country, which accounts for a dwindling chunk of the Amazon rainforest. As the world’s lungs dwindle due to deforestation and climate change, Valencia is prioritizing the ethical sourcing of materials.
“It’s one of the greatest natural forces in the world, and it’s disappearing,” he says. “So the focus is on being green, with intention.”
Florida, like the Amazon, is home to hundreds of invasive and keystone species. Éstudio Órganico’s upcoming collection plans to raise awareness of the environmental challenges posed by the introduction of invasive species to sensitive areas like the Everglades, with pieces pointing to flora and fauna like (invasive) green iguanas, turtles gopher (keystone) and the lantana camara flower (invasive).
The collection debuts next week at New York Fashion Week alongside enduring designer Natalia Trevino Amaro. Valencia and Muñoz aim to complement each other’s opposing design aesthetics through their latest work. Although both have studied sustainable design, Muñoz’s clothes offer a fluid and soft finish that contrasts with the avant-garde and industrial style of Valencia.
“We come from totally different fashion backgrounds, but I like to think of ourselves as a yin and yang type duality,” Valencia adds. “Éstudio Órganico would not be what it is without our two visions.”
Muñoz is pursuing a Masters in Fashion and Luxury Brand Management at Istituto Marangoni Miami.
As an architecture student, Valencia didn’t think he would work in fashion. He initially designed Éstudio Órganico as a recycled furniture studio.
“I wanted to incorporate furniture that was fashionable and functional,” says Valencia. “I would like to continue working on furniture, but I just don’t have the space.”
Valencia currently works out of his Cutler Bay home, which he shares with his friend Veronica Arroyo, another designer responsible for the brand. Vaed by VA.
Arroyo sees their work as an antithesis to the fast fashion movement popularized by stores like Forever 21 and H&M and online sites like Shein.
“What’s really the most unsustainable part is the overconsumption and the microtrends that are happening so constantly, where people are like, ‘It’s in, it’s out,’ and then throw it away or give it away. the,” says Arroyo.
According to the Environmental Center at the University of Colorado, approximately 85% of US textile waste is sent to landfills each year. While many people often try to donate unwanted clothes, Arroyo suggests repurposing them entirely.
“If you donate it and it doesn’t sell, they send it to [developing] country, and if it’s still not sold, they burn it in landfills,” Arroyo warns.
Éstudio Órganico’s take on the never-ending cycle of giving takes the form of a harness jacket and removable vest made from recycled Goodwill tote bags.
“Big brands and shoppers are throwing away so many faulty clothes,” Valencia says. “I wanted to do something that could hopefully change the industry.”