From weave to wedding, the purchase of a Silviyana gown represents an environmentally sustainable choice, and one that supports every person involved in making the dress, from weaver to designer.
Silviyana is a new bridal boutique in downtown San Jose whose collection “is filled with eco dresses made out of pineapple and banana fiber blends and dresses meticulously curated by American and international independent designers.” And these tropical fabrics create stunning, sexy wedding gowns, just as you might expect!
The founder, Seychelle, is originally from the Philippines. She has a lot of “fond memories of the Philippine countryside — rice fields and running after dragonflies.” Her family soon migrated to the hustle and bustle of Hong Kong, and later Seychelle graduated from the Environment and Business program at the University of Waterloo in Canada.
Working in the fabric industry, she knew there had to be a better way to support the weaving industry of her hometown. She was “moved to find a way to support sustainable growth in the old tradition of pineapple and banana weaving.” She helped in sourcing and developing a process to create unique blends of pineapple and banana fabrics.
She explains, “A pineapple plant bears a single pineapple fruit each harvest season. And in normal practices, it is typical that some farmers would discard the leaves of the pineapple plant after each harvest. We give the leaves new life and purpose — to cultivate beauty through great design. The fiber of the pineapple is scraped from each and every pineapple leaf, and the ‘liniwan’ pineapple fibers are carefully chosen because they are the softest fiber in a pineapple leaf. These fibers are washed in a nearby river and sun-dried. The very fine fibers are then knotted by experienced knotters, and hand-woven by weavers. Our banana fibers are from the abaca plant, which is a non-fruit bearing banana tree. The banana fibers come from the trunk of the banana tree.” The weavers also use mulberry-spun silk, a recycled natural material that is “more refined than other types of silk and known for its durability and luxurious appeal.”
Today, through Silviyana, she supports Philippine small businesses and cooperatives, providing them with knowledge, tools, and access to the international market. The weavers, who are mostly Filipino women, are paid a fair wage.
Silviyana supports two primary indie designers: Tony Hamawy in Brooklyn, New York, and Rania Hatoum, a designer who started her career in Florida, and now has a showroom in Hong Kong. And then there is Liana, “our store Tinkerbell” who manages the showroom. This is a small team, so the “creative and supply chain process is at the heart of our operations.” The creation process and pricing of a Silviyana gown are intentionally transparent. Silviyana knows their clients are both values-driven and appreciate indie design, so they want their clients to know the full story of each gown, from plant to weaver to design. Which is super, super cool.
Silviyana also works closely with aspiring international designers. Below is Silviyana’s newest design from Roland Magalang of Bergamo, an aspiring Filipino queer designer. The design is an alternative to a wedding dress. “The cape blazer feminine suit design allows a powerhouse bride to shine and incorporate their values on their wedding day.”
The heart of Silviyana is reflected in their genuine customer service and interaction with customers. Seychelle recalls that recently, a bride came to Silviyana who was “very sure she wanted something simple in style. She didn't want any frills and bling, and she definitely didn't want what she referred to as a ‘cupcake dress.’ We started her out trying on a couple of sheath style dresses designed by Tony Hamawy. They were long and made out of silk, which was very classic in design. She liked the fabric and the style, but something didn't feel quite right about them, so we moved on to designs by Rania Hatoum. The bride picked out a beautiful dress by Rania, called the Helen. It was overall very simple but had sparkly bling around the shoulders and waist. She requested to try the dress on by herself, and while she was in the dressing room, all of us heard a tiny ‘ooo!’ with an added gasp come from behind the curtains. When she walked out, we were all floored. The dress fit her body perfectly, and the shape could not have been better for her. She was stunning in it. Both the other sales associate and I let out a large gasp. We could tell right then that this was her gown. She came back a few days later, pretty set on purchasing the Helen. She only had one worry. Could she dance in this beautiful fitted gown? She was a dance teacher, and she wanted to rock out on her special day. We all smiled, asked her her favorite dance song, and the entire Silviyana team danced with her around the store to create the perfect mood. It was after dancing together that she no longer worried about being overly restricted. She taught us all some dance moves, and after the dancing was over she knew right then and there that was her dress.” The bride says, “Their genuine reactions truly made me feel like a stunning bride.”
Seychelle explains the meaning of Silviyana: “it stems from the word Silviculture, which means the cultivation and caring of trees.” This concept is symbolic of the brand’s aim “to support independent designers in the growth of their career.” Seychelle says, “We believe that the best way to stay competitive is to continually be inspired by your community.” We couldn’t agree more.
This week, if you book an appointment at the boutique between June 12-18, Silviyana is offering a $500 discount for Catalyst readers toward the purchase of any wedding dress.
Right now in the shop, Silviyana is featuring the unique designs of Pure Magnolia and Rania Hatoum’s eco collection. Rania Hatoum features your sexy banana and pineapple fabrics, while Pure Magnolia offers handmade vegan-friendly, organic cotton and reclaimed fabric gowns. So hop to it!