The Guayabera, Origin and Process / by Frankie Concha

In December I volunteered to help with charity for the holidays in Yucatan, Mexico. Since we were going I thought it would be a great opportunity to take Mirai and show here our roots and learn more about her Guayabera. This is a personal project I am doing with Family and have been working on for about 2 years now. Here is a bit of a quick rundown of what this item is.

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The Guayabera is a men's shirt distinguished by two vertical rows of closely sewn pleats that run the length of the front and back of the shirt. There are various claims as to where it originated from but after some research and discussion with family we believe it originated from Cuba, then adopted by the Yucatán Peninsula eventually spreading out more into Mexico. These specific types of guayaberas are made by some family members in Merida, Yucatán hence the complicated embroidery work we are known for. ^^

 

Usually the mens shirts do not have such detailed embroidery unless its for special events so when these were made they put decorative feminine design you would find on other garments for girls like the casual Huipil. These shirts are perfect for the summer and humidity, super breathable but so cute and comfy for your girls.

We visited Kimbila, a small town where Huipil and Guayaberas are made it is the best place to purchase authentic garments its outside of Merida and requires about a 2hr drive. On our visit we noticed most of the stores have been shutting down due to people not really wearing these garments as much, maybe Smart Doll can fix that? ^^

Just Mirai making some friends ^^

 

This was in a shop in the downtown area of Merida, lots of stock here due to the tourist as you can see there are so many varients of these garments and they constantly evolving in the fashion world. Do note that places more modern may have them made by machine so the embroidery is most likely not made by hand you just have to know where to look if you really want something traditional, there are differences with machine and handmade embroidery, the processes are different but by hand it has imperfections but its not like issues its more of just how the designs look. I can’t explain it well but you can just feel it and I think its worth finding and paying for a more traditional garment because the process is amazing and really makes you appreciate the craftsmanship. ^^

I was able to watch my aunts work and I did a little work my self as they taught me the process of how they made Mirai’s Guayabera. The process is called Hilo Contado (counting string) and made me a little confused but its something that you need to keep doing to understand. You make your design by counts, counting within the area and counting to know how much to space each design out.

Caneva is also needed to create the embroidery work it helps keep the work neat and lined up properly.

you cut the amount you need and stitch it in the area you want to put the embroidery like in the image above. And now you are ready to start!

These are old samples passed down from family and can be used to get ideas for what to design on the Guayabera.

Once you are done you simply start to pull the caneva apart and once its all off you embroidery work is all thats left. I was wondering how you would take the caneva off once you finished, its easy and dose not ruin your work.

Looking at the one that Mirai is wearing you can see that this design is going to be in the front of the shirt. Now we would need to repeat the same steps for the other side. I was trying my best to learn and I did have trouble with it but I just need to keep trying. the fabric is all local and made in Yucatan, Mexico. So if I were to make them I would need to import it. My Aunts really fell in love with Mirai and they just started doing this on their own so maybe we just need some tweaking and maybe we can make some for your girls? Please let me know if you are interested! I hope to make for the boys as well but I will need to get a male Smart Doll once I can and if this project keeps going well. ^^

Some photos of Mirai out n about in Yucatan. ^^

Ofcourse Mirai got all the attention and with that Guayabera it just made people all the more interested. We were looking for radome stuff in shops and in this shop I found some braclets aka head bands for Mirai (some of you got a peek of one headband if you were following my instagram), while we were looking the shop owner walked in and noticed I was carrying something…. cute but deadly lol He asked about her and asked if he could take a photo and Mirai said “OK!” ^^

One of my Aunts/partners she makes the embroidery by hand and is currently teaching me. Here she visited us in California and since she was here she wanted to see how the prototype Huipil fitted Mirai and made some adjustments.

And so this has been the journey at least part of it, the other was the Christmas charity we did. This has been a learning experience for me but there is still lots to do and I always try to do everything at the same time and I end up overwhelmed. Im happy with what I have accomplished, Smart Doll has grown so much since its launch and Im proud to say I was able to witness the process and the launch of Mirai in the 3D world. How many of you been fallowing Danny since his blogs/Culture Japan show? What kinda content did you enjoy during his blog days? His Bloggs brighten up my days during my battles with cancer. ^.^

Thank you everyone for supporting this project and being interested in owning one of these garments it really surprised me and my team was very happy that other people liked what they made and that they were asking for one for their own girls. Even with this project I still don’t feel like I’m doing enough I wish I could do more but maybe its just not time yet? I don’t know what more I can do for the community and it really brings me down but Im trying things even if they aren’t amazing but with my little projects it will eventually lead me somewhere no? I mean… look at this project it was just an idea and now its a physical item in this world. Doing something dose lead to something. ^^

If this is your first time finding out about this please let me know if you are interested in purchasing a Guayabera or a Huipil. If you have already told me then please tell me again! Much love and thank you!