Sunday, December 14, 2008

Garment District in the Yucatan.

As we drove into the little village of Kimbila, a village so tiny that it isn't on our Yucatan map, I immediately noticed all the houses that now had plate glass store fronts that were loaded with dresses and shirts. Most of the garments had embroidery on them. This wasn't the way the village looked when we saw it about 12 years ago. So of course we stopped and poked around in a few of them. I don't know where all these garments are made but in one place they were cutting embroidered flowers from machine-made strips and appliqueing them on dresses. There were also some hand embroidered dresses like the women wear in the Yucatan as well as some wedding dresses. There were bundles of dresses and shirts marked with sizes and style and I saw one lady who was buying by the bundle. So these shops were primarily wholesale businesses although you could buy by the ones as well. Ned bought a Guayabera shirt

I remember how I use to buy one of the hand embroidered dresses almost everytime we went to Cancun. When I first started buying them I'd pay about $15 for one. No more....those days are gone. This one was priced at $125 dollars.And this top was $45 dollars.
I do not think that there are any traditional village patterns or if there are I've never been able to figure it out. While the younger women in the villages dress in jeans most of the mothers are still wearing the colorfully embroidered white huipil or dress with a lace petticoat that shows around the bottom. I have never figured out how they keep these dresses spotless but I've never seen one that is dirty or has a stain on it.

These darling girls were in costume for a dance. This gives you some idea of the variety of embroidery types that you might encounter in the Yucatan.While I use to think that these dresses were a cottage industry, now I'm thinking that they have become a business and I bet that the women who make them by hand or by machine don't make much more than they ever did for their labor.


Islagringo said...

Interesting. I guess I always assumed that the women who wore them also made them. I know a lot of women here on the island and in Cancun still make them with a sewing machine. They can buy the patterns in fabric stores.

Billie said...

Probably they do make them for themselves and their family. I have seen so many shuttle operated sewing machines in the tiny houses in the Yucatan. I would imagine that most of the ones I saw were made for the tourist trade or even sold in the USA. What I think is interesting is that I think they are now using programmable sewing machines so that the patterns they put in them are repeatable. More automation in Kimbila or somewhere around there.

glorv1 said...

I have to have one of those blouses. They are out of this world. There are some stores here that cater to items they bring from Mexico. I am going to run out that way and see if I can find a dress or blouse with the embroidery....or I can learn to embroider? I don't think so. Very nice billie. I love the first picture with the bike out in front.

1st Mate said...

The women must be doing the embroidery themselves, I can't imagine they could afford the prices charged now. Unless the prices posted include the gringo surcharge. Or perhaps the embroidered pieces are sold somewhere and applied to the garments. I have a heavily, beautifully embroidered band I removed from a blouse that fit poorly, which someday I plan to sew onto a more comfortable blouse.

Cynthia said...

Whenever I see those white shirts and dresses adorned with the colorful flowers, I think of my girls and spring break.

They always came back from Mexico with one and wore it class for a month or so afterwards along with all their Mexico-vacationing friends.