- FELICIA HYDE
Native Sol Brings Filipino Heritage to the Forefront of Sustainable Fashion
As the door to Native Sol swings open, a wave of vibrant colors and bold prints rushes out, tempting passersby to step inside and explore. This Long Beach-based boutique, established in 2005, offers a curated collection of handmade clothing and jewelry that draws inspiration from traditional Filipino styles. With a recent expansion into Sacramento, now over a year old, Native Sol, co-owned by May Salem, has become more than a place to buy clothes. It is a celebration of sustainable fashion and ethical sourcing.
Each piece is carefully crafted with a sense of purpose and an eye toward the future, blending past and present into a bold and beautiful vision of what Filipino fashion and community can be.
“I think my personal upbringing of someone who was born in Aklan, Panay, and being connected to my culture and healing practice through hilot are some of my foundations for Native Sol,” Salem said. “Early inspirations are based on that, and creating pieces with fibers grown locally and are indigenous to my hometown. Wild pineapple and abaca were the first muses. Our sustainable lifestyle at the time is also one of the biggest driving points that inspired Native Sol.”
Taking pride in her Visayan heritage, Salem uses a mixture of indigenous and recycled materials and textiles to highlight the beauty within traditional Southeast Asian clothing and jewelry. Native Sol shows eco-friendly products, handcrafted vintage pieces, and Salem’s craft as a reflection of her cultural identity and lifestyle.
In addition to creating garments from scratch, Salem’s creative process consists of repurposing vintage pieces.
“Vintage pieces are either made into crop tops or reconstructed into new clothing items to give them a new life. Some vintage pieces are not as current or as functional, so they are transformed into two-piece sets or other items,” Salem said.
Drawing influence from traditional Filipino garments such as malongs, a colorful tube-like skirt, certain articles within Native Sol’s vintage collection remain untouched and kept as statement pieces.
With its Sacramento location being open for a little over a year, Native Sol is still establishing their footprint. According to Salem, many pop-up shops evolved into brick-and-mortar stores, and Native Sole has grown in various ways while maintaining its values and integrity.
The eco-friendly boutique is also a gathering center for local communities. Salem and her partner provide a space for events and workshops to showcase local creators and pop-ups.
“We partner with different artisans, especially local and Indigenous makers from around the world. The shop also features Black, Indigenous, and POC makers, which is an important aspect of our mission,” Salem said.
Combining Southeast Asian traditional wear with sustainable materials has sparked inspiration amongst their regular customers and fellow community members, some of whom are reconnecting with their family roots and Filipino heritage.
Salem loves her family’s involvement in the creation process and raising her children while participating in festivals and cultural events.
“It was challenging but worth it since we were able to work for ourselves and have our children with us,” Salem said. “This was the best thing about Native Sol for us as we were able to remain close to our family without compromising our time.”
Unlike other businesses that strive to grow commercially, Salem hopes to thrive in ways that allow expansion within the lifestyle part of the business and continue to participate in more community-based events. She hopes to grow in her communal efforts and continue the work of sharing Filipino culture with the Sacramento community.
“Native Sol is a reflection of our lifestyle and became a business after. It’s important to us because it’s an offering from our hearts, but it’s also been able to sustain us financially in this world of capitalism. Native Sol had become a connection for our community and us.”