This beautiful blouse is originally from Jalapa de Díaz, a town located in the Mexican state of Oaxaca. It is 50 km west of Tuxtepec, the principal city in the Papaloapan region and the second largest in Oaxaca state.
This blouse or huipil originated around the 20s. It is embroidered on the front and back with elements of birds and flowers, which are characterized for their vibrant and happy colors. In order to create these pieces of art, the artisans first draw their ideas on the fabric (rayón), and then embroider each of the elements by hand. The embroidery itself takes approximately 20-30 days, hence the high cost of these blouses. They also embroider dresses like the one in this picture.
Unfortunately, the region of Papaloapan isn’t safe at the moment, and the fights between cartels (drug dealers) have killed many innocent people. There is also a risk of being kidnapped if you happen to be on the street late at night. A lot of people have gone missing over the last couple of years, which is why many artisan women don’t dare to travel to the city anymore. Instead, they send the men in their families.
Every day, José travels from Jalapa de Díaz to Tuxtepec to sell the blouses and dresses that the women in his family make. He gets up every morning with hope that it’s going to be a good day, and that he’s going to sell enough dresses and blouses to bring money home.
I was raised in Tuxtepec, Oaxaca and happily lived there for many years. It’s sad to know that nothing is being done to end the insecurity in this beautiful city. However, the people have gotten used to living among danger, and they have hope that this will pass.
Before I moved to the Netherlands, my grandmother gave me a blusa bordada (embroidered blouse). I was happy to receive such a special gift, because at that time, I believed that wearing one of these blouses meant you had a good socioeconomic status, or that you worked very hard to buy it. When I moved to the Netherlands I brought it with me, and it’s now one of the most valuable pieces I have in my closet.
One day, I was walking down the street in the center of Groningen, and a couple stopped to tell me how beautiful my blouse was. They were amazed by the colors, and told me that they had never seen anything like it before. In that moment, I felt very proud of my roots, and the fact that I was wearing something made by people from my hometown. It wasn’t the first time someone “chulea” (praised) my blouse. Wherever I go people ask me where I bought it, and I’m always happy to say that it’s made in Mexico.
It was only after moving abroad that I became passionate about my own roots. That’s when I decided to start my own clothing business, Dressaraz. Our goal is to promote handmade traditional Mexican clothes and encourage slow fashion.
We believe that we can help others live a better lifestyle simply by supporting the work that they do. When you buy hecho en Mexico, you’re helping create a steady source of income for these artisans and their families.
So what about you? Do you have an embroidered piece in your closet too? Which is your favorite garment? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below.