Leafy Natural Couture

Silvia Vassão

Full Bio

Fashion designer Silvia Vassão left her native Brazil as a free-spirited 18-year-old and set out exploring and globetrotting, hungry to experience a cornucopia of cultures far and wide. It was during her travels that she forged her love of nature, human diversity and discovered a passion for ancient, faraway cultures. After many years drawing on these experiences and inspirations in her various incarnations as a visual artist, she ultimately chose NY as her base and found a way to translate all her interests and talent into a sustainable fashion manifesto.

It was Silvia's nomadic style, an amalgam of Talitha Getty and young Bianca Jagger, culled from her many travels, which became the blueprint for the Leafy girl. The concept for her sustainably sourced fashion house sprang forth as she traversed through Cambodia, Vietnam, India and Japan and fell in love with silk. After this first encounter, she set up to study and collect different kinds of silk, searching for the "perfect" one. Little she knew that this quest would take her back exactly where she started: the South of Brazil. It was there she discovered the Brazilian "Silk Valley" and set up Leafy's production base.

Leafy is dedicated to reduce the environmental impact of its business and promote a more responsible way to experience fashion. We source our primary raw materials from suppliers that meet the highest standards of sustainability, craftsmanship and social responsibility.

For the crochet pieces, we use hand-spun silk yarn, produced in the Brazilian Silk Valley (Maringá, Paraná), and dyed with organic pigments from plants and compost. Families on small rural properties provide most of the silkworm cocoons in this area, improving income and contributing to reducing rural exodus. Each hectare planted with a mulberry tree, whose leaves are the only thing silkworms eat, creates a job. Our crocheters are women living in small fishing villages in Brazil who have learned traditional hand-weaving techniques from the elders in their families. Being able to earn an income working from home has inspired younger women in the communities to start crochet who have been benefiting from our training programs. Because of this they have been keeping alive family hand-weaving techniques learnt from their mothers and grandmothers.

For our collection, "Pangaea," we use the flawless skin from the Amazonian fish Pirarucu (Arapaima Gigas). This fish leather is an eco-alternative to bovine leather, and its processing is not harmful to the environment. The Pirarucu being part of the staple diet in the Amazon region, the fish skin we source is a byproduct of the local fishing industry. It is tanned using eco-friendly means and is certified sustainable by IBAMA (Brazil National Agency for Environment).