Escama Studio: From Discarded Soda Cans to Haute Couture

Masha Bag from Escama Studio

By: Alice Bonasio

Being green is one of those things – like eating healthily – that we all want to do but don’t always get around to. Recycling can be time-consuming, and researching which products are the most eco-friendly or ethically produced takes time that busy women with jobs might not have.

And for the fashion-savvy, the idea of actually wearing your recycling could seem like a step too far, but fear not. A hot new trend from Brazil is transforming humble soda can ring pulls into fashion must-haves, being extensively featured in the fashion press, including Elle Magazine.

Necklace from Escama Studio

Based in the Brazilian capital, Brasilia, Escama Studio (Escama translates as scales, like in a lizard or snake, which fits the sleek look of their products) collects, washes and processes tons of ring pulls, or tabs found in soda cans, and crochets them into intricate designs for handbags, jewellery, and even clothing.

Escama Studio bags are sold by prestigious retailers such as The MoMA in New York, and their extraordinary journey from trash to chic museum shop has been subject of a documentary broadcast in England and produced by Tom Atkinson.

Mini Clutches by Escama Studio

The artists work in co-operatives based in a deprived area of the Brasilia periphery, and making the accessories gives them the chance to earn a decent living wage. Unusually, the studio gives individual credit to each artist who creates a particular bag or accessory. You will find a tag signed by the person who made it with your bag, and can find information about that person or send them a message on the website, which will be translated into Portuguese for them.

Escama Studio

Brazilian haute couture designer Ronaldo Fraga has also teamed up with the co-operatives to produce a daring collection of ring-pull clothing. Each dress took hundreds of hours to complete, which is why the studio does not yet sell clothing to the public. On the other hand, they do say that their dream is to make a pull-tab suit for Al Gore

But while I like the clothes, my favourite item on their website is the classy “Luci” bag, made with over 200 post-consumer recycled pop tops. At $250 it isn’t cheap, but it’s a lot more affordable than most designer bags, and the ethical sourcing and manufacturing is guaranteed to leave you feeling, as well as looking, good as you show it off.

Luci Bag from Escama Studio

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Alice Bonasio is a Brazilian/American/Italian writer specializing in Digital Cultures. She has been published in Gamestm, Edge, The Escapist and 360. She is currently finishing an MA in Creative and Media Enterprises at the University of Warwick. She lives in England and is a PR Executive for one of the UK’s hottest tech start-ups, The Filter. Contact her on LinkedIN and follow her on Twitter.

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