40-years in business makes Sylene of Washington a witness to social change, model of business success

By: PRLog
The lingerie store celebrates 4-decades of fashion, giving back to women in need and investing in social change.
PRLog - May 22, 2015 - CHEVY CHASE, Md. -- 40 years ago, during a decade known as the "Bra Burning Era," Cyla Weiner, a 26-year-old newlywed and daughter of Holocaust survivors, opened in Bethesda, Sylene of Washington, an upscale lingerie store. Sylene, which moved to Friendship Heights 15-years-ago has not only survived multiple recessions, box store mania and on-line shopping, but in its 4-decade history has been witness to a revolution of social change. Weiner, who 5-years after opening her store brought on her younger sister, Helen Kestler, as her business partner, has seen both fashions as well as men's and women's attitudes toward intimate apparel change across the board. "The only customer who has never changed is that awkward first-bra purchaser. Tweens are still mortified," says Weiner who has stories she will never tell.

Weiner's formula for success has everything to do with understanding and staying attuned to her marketplace and clients as well as remaining hands on, daily, for 40-years. "I am in tune with everything that goes on and every piece of merchandise that comes in and goes out, including why it may not going out or why it may be returned. The clients 'told' me what I needed to know. I made it a point to listen and make improvements," says Weiner of her business formula. "I raised Sylene. She is my baby and I raised my baby in my own image and I grew up with her." Weiner and her husband have two grown children.

4-Decades of Social Change:

UNDERGARMENTS AS OUTER GARMENTS: In 40-years, bras transformed from unspoken undergarments to outerwear worthy of discussion. Just 30 years after women were burning bras on an Atlantic City boardwalk, "women underwent a bra revolution of sorts," says Weiner. "The bra is fashion. First Madonna then Sex in the City brought a change to the way women wear their underclothes."

A SEXUAL REVOLUTION INSIDE A LINGERIE STORE: Sylene has been witness to a sexual revolution. "Men used to be the dominant buyers of sexy lingerie. Since the late 1990s, women have been purchasing their own intimate items," says Weiner of the trend.

COMING OUT OF THE DRESSING ROOM: The sexual revolution has brought alternative lifestyles out of the changing room. Weiner has seen an increased comfort level, activity and sales from Transgenders, Crossdressers, Transvestites and other alternative lifestyles.

BREAST RECONSTRUCTION/BRA RECONSTRUCTION: By learning about and catering to the needs of women with breast cancer, Sylene became a pioneer in the 'we-can't-talk-about-this' arena. "When we started, I was trained to do Mastectomy fittings and it was so hush-hush. 40 years later it is out in the open, and it's wonderful," says Weiner. Sylene was the first in the area to do Mastectomy fashion shows, using as models real customers undergoing cancer treatment.

THE HISTORY OF THE BRA: The bra celebrated its 100th birthday in 2007. First used as a term in a 1907 issue of Vogue, since Sylene opened its doors, the marketplace has added matching bra/bikini fashion (early 1970s); sports bra (1977) and expanded cup sizes (2011).

Helping to create social change:

For 4-decades, Sylene has given back to the community supporting such causes and conducting in-service programs with, Second Chance, Suited for Change, Interfaith Works, N Street Village, Free the Girls, Reach for Recovery, Howard University Cancer Center, Inova Cancer Center, Suburban Hospital Cancer Center, Sibley Hospital Breast Cancer Center, Lombardi Cancer Center, George Washington Hospital.

Sylene sells first bras, lingerie, wedding trousseaus, swimsuits, nursing bras, mastectomy prosthesis, sleepwear and more than 60 different bra sizes. Cyla Weiner is available for on-set, in-store, phone and email interviews. Store: 4407 S Park Ave, Chevy Chase, MD 20815. 301.654.4200.

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