Boga, Cuban Fashion
Models: Elizabeth Bartet, Roberto Hidalgo and Daniel Coca / Photos by José (Tito) Meriño
The guayabera is a traditional Cuban garment used by men and women, and is one of the top articles of clothing made by the Boga group (Unión de Confecciones Textiles Boga). The group's 15 companies produce all kinds of apparel for all ages, taking into account the latest developments in the garment industry and setting trends in the world of fashion.
In this issue, Cubaplus brings you examples of traditional Cuban guayaberas (for both men and women) in a design that won a gold medal and a certificate for product quality during the recent 2012 Havana International Trade Fair, held at the Expocuba fairground in the Cuban capital.
Guayaberas are very practical garments; they can be worn on any occasion, and can be made out of linen, cotton, polyester/cotton or rami (a linen/polyester mix).
According to the Cuban online encyclopedia EcuRed, the first guayabera was made in the city of Sancti Spíritus, in what is now the central Cuban province of Sancti Spíritus. As the story goes, Don José Pérez Rodríguez, a potter, and his wife Encarnación Núñez, a seamstress, were immigrants from Andalucía, Spain, who moved to the city in 1709. One day they received a package of cloth from back home, and Don José asked his wife to make him a long shirt with big pockets to carry his cigar and other things to the workshop. After a number of attempts, Encarnación made a shirt that made him happy, and when the local country folk saw how comfortable her design was, they began making and using it too.
According to Boga business director Ricardo L. Aedo, for the guayaberas that are produced at the José Manuel Lazo de la Vega clothing factory in Habana Vieja, the factory's designers take great care to respect the traditional basic lines of the shirt —including its alforzas (fine, tiny pleats, sewn closely together) and pockets— and at the same time, to also bring to bear the latest in fashion.
In Cuba, you can find a guayabera at many stores in the capital and in hotel shops around the country. Under the brand name Criolla, Cuba exports guayaberas to neighboring countries, where they are in high demand.