There's something precious about a made to order garment, and it's not just that made to order clothing solves the issue of end of season fast fashion waste. There's a sense of value and uniqueness to slow-made fashion, and it's something that can't quite be put into words. It's the thought that someone, somewhere, who cares about what they do, is delicately piecing together something special - just for you.
When it comes to an Orocéo Castro garment, that feeling is exactly what designers and co-owners Paolo and Ginny Castro are passionate about sharing with the world, and it's something their grandmother shared with them too. Paolo and Ginny learnt the wonder of fashion at a young age, and every garment they delicately handcraft now is a homage to the values, creativity and magic that their late grandmother instilled in them.
Each Orocéo Castro garment is made with longevity and elegance in mind, to outlast short-lived trends and fleeting fads. Every thread is skilfully pulled into its perfect place, every detail is meticulously finished, and every Orocéo Castro piece is also Melbourne made, ethical, vegan-friendly and sustainable.
Paolo stepped away from the studio recently to share a little more about his passion for ethical fashion and his love for his late grandmother...
Why are you passionate about ethical fashion?
Fashion and style are two things that we were exposed to from the moment we were born. We grew up in four very different cities in Asia and Australia, and we witnessed and experienced the effects of fashion on its consumers, makers and workers, among others.
We have seen some of our dear friends' businesses shut down after being around for many years because their clients switched over to working with other manufacturing companies that offer cheaper services mostly because they get away with underpaying their employees. At the same time, we also continually see other emerging labels crumble amid fast fashion giants that seem to keep proliferating and are showing no signs of slowing down. We wanted to create something unique and remain ethical, to challenge it all.
Why are you passionate about sustainability in the fashion industry?
We believe that every business needs to have a good sense of socioeconomic and environmental accountability because after all, the very survival of fashion is greatly affected by these factors.
Why do you do what you do?
We both thrive on creativity, and it's innate to us. We are serial daydreamers and are happiest when we allow our thoughts and dreams to translate into our collections.
How do you want women to feel when they wear your garments?
The Orocéo Castro woman is always ladylike and elegant, so we always aim for our customers to feel that way. On top of that, we want to help our customers feel very empowered and confident.
What does slow and conscious fashion mean to you?
We believe that slow and conscious fashion is the key to preserving the authenticity of fashion itself as an art form. It will not only urge designers to put more effort into designing and making every garment, instead of just churning rip-offs and following trends. It will also push consumers to find more ways of styling the garments that they already have. Also, it would be so wonderful to see small designers, ethical manufacturers, garments workers and the environment thrive.
How did your grandmother influence Orocéo Castro?
In the Filipino language, 'Lola' translates to 'grandmother', and our grandmother's name was Lucy, so we called her Lola Lucy. Every collection we've ever done, we've always looked to Lola Lucy for inspiration. The Orocéo Castro lady is essentially her. She dressed exceptionally well, but that pales in comparison with how gracefully she handled herself in every situation she was in. I don't have a memory of her ever losing her cool or poise. She was always generous, gentle, kind, extremely intelligent and always radiant with positive energy. So often these days we equate women dressing in menswear-inspired clothing and adopting masculine characteristics as powerful, and that is amazing. However, Lola Lucy was a testament that there is undeniable strength in being a lady, and that is the very essence of the Orocéo Castro woman.
She sewed a lot of garments for us when we were little, so really, it was Lola Lucy who unknowingly introduced me to garment construction. As a young boy, I was always in awe of how she made such beautifully constructed garments from scratch in so little time! She passed away last year, and now I always find myself in a bittersweet state of thinking about what it would have been like to dress her instead. So we've named our latest collection, Lucy and it is our love letter to her. I had her in mind when I sketched 122 looks across two sketchbooks —which I had to cut down to 21. I didn't want to stop sketching because it felt like every time I touched the paper with the pencil lead, I was with her and having a conversation with her. I know she would've loved a lot of the silhouettes in this collection and I know she would have been so happy seeing all the red— her favourite colour. Fashion is a language Lola Lucy, Ginny and I understood. I wish I had known how to speak it a lot earlier, but I take comfort in the thought of Lola Lucy dancing with me while she wears every garment in the collection, a collection for her. That would've been very nice.
Support ethical and sustainable designers and shop the Orocéo Castro range here. I'm wearing the Nymph Dress One.
The Fashion Advocate x