Designer Daniel Davilla finds the beauty in discarded materials

The average person generates around 5 pounds of rubbish a day, compared to the average 1.16 pound of recycling. It seems as though we all must individually contribute our part to reduce the amount of waste in the world. Brazilian fashion designer Daniel Davilla has been using discarded materials to create fashion for 15 years. In 2010, Daniel launched a dress collection that caught the attention of the Photographers Association of Barcelona. Later that year, the president of the association invited Daniel to an event to display his work. Since, Daniel has been creating unique pieces for runways, magazines, and clients.

It is most admirable when artists find a way to incorporate recycling into their art. Not only does this prove the inherent beauty of what some consider “trash,” but it can further inspire other artists to create similar work.

Within the last decade, buyers have become more aware of the consequences of the fashion industry. Growing consciousness about the effect of clothes dye, worker exploitation and material waste have made consumers and designers rethink their fashion choices. Daniel also became more conscious of this and wanted to contribute and be part of the solution.

“I wanted to put forth, through fashion, a warning message of the environmental issues we live with” he said.

Through the creation of garments, Daniel conflates different trends that are resurfacing, such as “slow fashion” and “no waste.” Slow fashion entails understanding the process in which the clothes are being made. As Daniel is the designer, seamster and creator of his work, he is responsible for all aspects and knows exactly where it all comes from. The no waste movement strives to repurpose materials that would otherwise be destined to become landfill. Daniel’s work combines both.

Daniel has used a number of materials, ranging from cassette tapes to computer keyboards and glass lenses.

“Each material presents its own difficulties, even preparing the material and thinking about the item’s construction is a challenge,” he said.

The process behind recycling these materials is complex. It involves collecting, cleaning and a creative aspect in which the artist must envision the presentation of the material.

“Using CD discs was maybe the most challenging material, because of its rigidity,” he said. “I had to cut them up and make small holes in them in which I tied some metal string and brought the little pieces together. Also the keyboards, preparing the keyboards and calculating the amount of keys I needed to add, and then remove so that the dress would not be shapeless.”

The technicalities involved in this type of work are not perceived at first glance. Once the artist has an idea, creating a concept and making it a tangible item can be an elaborate procedure.

In terms of inspiration, the ubiquity of litter and residue is something that often reaches artists and observers.

“I was walking at night and the shine of a VHS film tape on the floor caught my attention,” he said. “This inspired me, and I thought that maybe I could make something luxurious out of that shine.”

After all, the idea of luxury in fashion derives from a combination of materials, creation, and inspiration.

Daniel’s outlook of creating something sumptuous from nothing is an approach that many self-made artists have. It takes true artistic talent to create beauty from what others deem as waste. Daniel’s creations demonstrate how creativity can shape the way we view materials, enhancing their circularity and usability. Through fashion, Daniel detects the intrinsic beauty of “junk” and molds it into a garment that appeals to all audiences.

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