Travel and Tourism : Cuban Culture – The History Of The Guayabera
This elegant, comfortable, and cool piece of clothing has been worn by several generations of Cubans and lots of foreigners. And now with increased travel and toursim to Cuba eveyone wants one !! Coming with a great acceptance in the tropics because it is made of cotton or fine linen, it is believed that it was created by the wife of a countryman in the region of Santi Spiritus, Cuba, around 1709; designed actually as a comfortable piece of clothing for field labor. Another version tells that it was created by a Spanish immigrant from Granada who, in his tailor shop in that village, sold long shirts with comfy pockets for keeping cigars and pipe tobacco.
Originally the shirt was known as yayabera because it was used in the region near the Yayabo River. The new tourists now need travel recommendations when they come to Cuba.As countrymen used to keep guavas, very abundant in the area, in the huge shirt pockets, the name was changed for the one we know today: guayabera. It is really nice during the summer: fastened up in the front part with nacre buttons, the same type of buttons on the four pockets and the cuffs, with the sides a little bit open to facilitate the collocation of the machete to one side and a knife to the other. All of these characteristics made for rapid adoption by the countrymen.
However, in the mist of the 20th century, a Lebanese tailor named Said Selman created in Cardenas, Matanzas, three new models of the Cuban guayabera with seven new designs for the pockets; changes that revolutionized the piece of clothing completely and became the essence of the patterns commercialized today. Not only had his regular Cuban customers asked for his guayaberas, but also a large number of foreign tourists that were on vacation in the Varadero resort, who began to buy the famous linen guayabera, tailor-made, with 23 nacre buttons, in white or natural colors made with efficiency and skill.
This tailor created and combined guayaberas with casual and smart collars, long and short sleeves, and above all, he eliminated the lists and pleats of fabric sewn on the piece of clothing, initiating the tradition of sewing directly on the fabric without cuts or extra pieces of material. In total, 12 innovations to the guayabera, born in the Yayabo region, are attributed to the Lebanese tailor.
The guayabera has become one of the main trends of international fashion since some years ago. The prices for one piece vary from $24.99 for a cotton guayabera to $135.99 for an Irish linen guayabera, and if the piece is made of Egyptian linen it can cost up to $175. It is also a part of the female wardrobe now since some New York female designers of Cuban origin have created works using its pattern. In Cuba, some souvenir stores and fashion shops offer it with varied designs, fabrics, and colors. Instead of suits, the guayabera is the official piece of clothing in Cuba for all the public acts and it is accepted in almost all places and events that demand etiquette.
Guayaberas are also produced in Panama, Dominican Republic, Mexico and Puerto Rico; where models and styles are less complex, however. They are also worn in many Asian countries, including Thailand and the Philippines, where they have embroidery instead of pleats.