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Salvage Chic: Sylvia Calvo turns coffee bean bags into high fashion

While she’s known globally for her fashion forward dresses, waistcoats and jackets, it’s not unusual to find Sylvia Calvo scouring the Port of Barcelona’s waterfront docks for used coffee bean bags. It may seem like a strange thing for a designer to do but, in fact, that’s how she began her career in eco-fashion – by gathering used burlap and roll ends of fabrics and transforming them into chic and wearable clothes.

Sylvia Calvo’s unique designs answer the question what do you get when you cross high fashion with waste fabric? In fact, creating fashionable collections out of burlap sacks is the challenge that she wakes up to every morning.

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Recently, Sylvia Calvo returned to Eco Fashion Week Australia with her second collection which truly impressed. She took as inspiration the arts and culture of her hometown of Barcelona which hugs the coastline of the majestic Mediterranean Sea.

This stylish Spaniard’s fashionable collection, which included pieces for both men and women, used not only reclaimed coffee bean bags but also organic cotton and hemp. This mix of fabrics, used to construct wearable separates, gave us a more diversified collection and broadened the appeal of Calvo’s unique brand.

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Any good fashion designer needs to evolve over time and I was pleasantly surprised with the addition of impressive hand painting and embroidery on her fabrics. This experimentation with new techniques is what makes Calvo stand out as an eco-designer.

Although they are made out of waste fabrics, there’s nothing throwaway about Calvo’s clothes. One outfit that impressed on the runaway was an emerald green skirt with a blouse covered in alpaca and natural gems applied on coffee bag burlap. Calvo also showcased a men’s tailored jacket with hand crafted wooden buttons that would not have looked out of place on the streets of Barcelona.

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She presented t-shirts and light outerwear and, new for 2019, is a line of bags, offering an entry level eco-fashion item for those just dipping their toes into greening their closets and thus widening her brand’s appeal.

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Sylvia Calvo eco-fashion collection at Eco Fashion Week Australia | Photo Simon Lau

Sylvia Calvo’s motto is “waste to value” and it can’t be denied that her designs impact our environment only minimally while offering wearable and stylish clothing for today’s eco conscious men and women.

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