The Otavalo Cotton Shirt made in the Andes mountains of Ecuador is popular around the world. It’s been a tradition here for hundreds of years. For that reason it’s not a contemporary fashion statement, but wearing one you will be sporting a timeless style. South American Indigenous style. The traditional dress for Otavalo men is white shirt and pants, a navy poncho and sandals.
These beautiful handmade cotton shirts from Otavalo, Ecuador are typically embroidered. The shirts are also available without embroidery, or with white embroidery on white cotton, which is very subtle. This post showcases some of the varieties we have available.
The natural fiber clothing provides cool comfort for summer days. Slight wrinkles and creases ensure you won’t have the starched look. You will merely be comfortable. And attact some attention.
Our Otavalo shirts are similar to those worn by the President of Ecuador, Rafael Correa. A popular Ecuadorian design motif is the radiating golden sun-mask that is the symbol of the Banco Central.
It’s from La Tolita culture, dated sometime between 350 BC – 350 AD. and on display in the Sala de Oro in the Banco Central museum in Quito.
Suns, crosses, animals like turtles and iguanas that are native to the Galapagos Islands are also popular themes for embroidery, but the most prominent theme is a wide range of geometrics. North American Indian themes such as eagles, bears, buffalo, wolves and dream catchers are also popular.
Tagua buttons are used rather than plastic. Tagua is a carved nut from the Amazon which resembles elephant ivory, but is eco-friendly. Prior to the invention of modern plastics, a flourishing tagua button industry supplied the European fashion industry, and many uniforms from the American civil war used buttons that were made from Tagua.
In a shop near the Copacabana Market you will find cotton shirts embroidered with Messianic Christian designs, incorporating rams, Jewish menorahs, and statements of praise and worship. From ancient times the weavers of Otavalo were producing textiles and clothing not only for the local market, but also for distant markets, creating designs for export.
White is the traditional color for the Otavalo Mountain Shirt. Tan, green, brown and black shirts are available but normally in limited quantity unless special ordered. Collar options are the military collar or the fold down. So if you are looking for a cool comfortable cotton shirt that you can wear with ease, try one from Otavalo.