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Photos / Pierre Louis
Model / Shan Fernandez 
Styling / Richie Candelo 
Makeup / Felicia Graham 
Hair / Alethea X Graham 

Boundary pushing streetwear designer Dope Tavio has made a bold statements on the most forward thinking artist and fashion connoisseurs of New York with his exaggerated draping sensibilities. Known for his out there approach on ready to wear fashion, he creates avant staples like denim and leather, that piece the wearer together like a rock and roll paper doll.  Dope Tavio has reinvented a little bit of his own wheel and it is one that will carry you far in the world of fashion. We get to know the artist and chat with him about his inspirations and dedication to fashion.

You were born and raised in NJ, then you moved to Miami for 13 years and recently settled back up north in NYC. Miami and NY are like two different worlds! What brought you to NYC?

I LOVE NY! I’ve always been the most inspired here. I started designing DOPE TAVIO a year and a half ago part-time in Miami, while I worked as an interior designer by day. It came to a point where I had to decide one over the other. I chose to go with fashion as I was really excited about what could become of DOPE TAVIO but would only do it if I was back in NYC, so here I am.


How did you get into design and where did you learn your craft?

Well I’m self taught. And I’ve always loved fashion, I got my first sewing machine at the age of 13. I would break apart anything I can find and put it back together in order to learn about shapes and patterns. Within a year I was showing my designs in local talent shows. I became pretty big in my city (Passaic NJ) and would end up making almost everyone’s prom while I was in high school. After graduating high school, I open up a boutique called Dita’s which I ran for 3 yrs before deciding to move to Miami.

Who were some designers that inspired you early on?

Jean Paul Gaultier, Thierry Mugler, Patricia Fields these were the first that I saw pushing the envelope, and having fun with fashion, but with a point of view. They made us want to look and dress like the future, which is the world we live in now.

We noticed a lot of early hip-hop influences on your Instagram. Tell us about how important music is to you as a designer?

Music is everything to me. I grew up in the 90’s where many hip-hop artists like Lil Kim, Missy Elliot, and Busta Rhymes pushed street and high fashion through their lyrics, performances, magazine covers and music videos. I think pop culture icons are what makes being a fashion designer like myself fun.

Denim is a key material for you to use. Why do you like Denim?

Denim is a staple in everyone’s everyday esthetic. People relate to denim. Denim never goes out of style. It plays a big part in my high fashion streetwear line. I currently have denim in bleached, patchwork, pleated and vintage denim on my one of a kind piece.


Now that we’re on the topic of denim. As a denim enthusiast what’s your favorite/go to jean brand that’s always in your closet?

Levis, they have classic fits and finishes that are timeless. You can walk into any goodwill and come out with a great pair for under $10 and they will last you forever.


Describe the Dope Tavio muse?

My muse is Artist/Rapper Sharaya J. Her and I met 15yrs ago and we started creating art together within days of meeting. We both trust each others vision and always have the best chemistry when collaborating. She’s the one who inspired me to get back into designing again and start DOPE TAVIO. Her look and sound inspires me. It’s BOLD, its eccentric, she’s Fierce and she isn’t afraid of fashion and trying new things.

Tell us some other celebrity Dope Tavio muses of people you would love to dress?

I would love to continue working with all the artist that have worn DOPE TAVIO thus far Ty Hunter, Stevie Boi , Erykah Badu, Sharaya J just to name a few. But of course some more of pop culture fashion icons starting with the Madonna ,Beyoncé, Rhianna, Lady Gaga… I can go on and on.

What is your favorite thing about being a designer?

The best thing for me is having no rules. I love being able to get creative and making all these pieces not knowing where it will end up, who will wear it, how it will be styled, how it will be photographed, or who will purchase them.

What is next for the Dope Tavio brand?

I just opened DOPETAVIO.COM on Black Friday. I’m also concentrating on putting together my next collection, I have a few collaborations in the works, a few fashion films, editorial spreads and maybe a presentation for NYFW in February.

I must say I’ve been so blessed these past few months in NYC, I’ve gotten to meet so many talented people who believe in my work. “KEEP GOING” is what celebrity stylist/designer Ty Hunter told me after meeting him and viewing my collection. Hearing that and other advice from him gave me reassurance that this is what I should be doing right at this very moment. So, I’m going to KEEP GOING.






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