A family-owned business in a small community in the state of Yucatán is making a name for itself exporting guayaberas — also known as Mexican wedding shirts — around the world.
Silvia López, as the enterprise is called, is located in Kimbilá, about 55 kilometers east of Mérida in a region that is well known for its traditional embroidery.
By mixing tradition with innovation to make high-quality, handmade garments, the business has found an international market.
While the origin of the guayabera is disputed, with claims on its invention ranging from Mexico and Cuba and as far away as the Philippines, evidence of the quality of the shirts produced by Silvia López can be seen in the demand.
Exports of their guayaberas as well as other typical garments now reach several parts of the world including the United States, the European Union, Australia, New Zealand and Dubai in the United Arab Emirates.
Traditional light-colored versions of the guayabera made by the 24 employees in the company’s workshop remain the most popular item.
However, the business has branched out into more modern designs and colors and now also produces brightly colored versions in denim or blended yarns in addition to the classic linen and cotton.
Guayaberas embroidered with flowers such as lilies and other garments including dresses, blouses, embroidered belts, bags and the classic terno yucateco, a colorfully embroidered three-piece costume for women, have become sought after by local and international customers alike.
In an interview with the newspaper El Universal, business owner Jorge May attributes international success to “the quality and tailoring . . . [and] seeking to add innovative ideas that reflect the times and modernism.”
May’s son also works in the business along with his daughter-in-law Astrid Ojeda Torres, who is the designer responsible for giving the garments an updated twist by combining traditional embroidery with modern-day flair.
The company now exports up to 500 garments every three months, in large part due to the popularity of the freshly updated pieces.
Guayaberas, so-called according to one popular tale because farmers once used their pockets to collect guayabas, or guavas, have long been popular in many Latin American countries among the upper classes and politicians but their appeal has now widened to include young people and women as well as consumers in new foreign markets.
According to May, guayaberas are not as costly as many people think: cotton versions of the shirt go for between 350 and 600 pesos (US $19-32) while linen ones cost between 800 and 1,000 pesos.
Source: El Universal (sp)