A famous Colombian designer is facing one of his most demanding orders to date, the shirts that U.S. president Barack Obama will wear at the Summit of the Americas in Cartagena, his daughter told local media Wednesday.
Edgar Gomez Estevez, a well-known designer of “guayaberas,” light-weight tropical shirts also known as “Mexican wedding shirts,” is hard at work. “We are creating 130 guayaberas [for Obama],” he said. “We will make the design very different and special. Obama’s guayabera will have a very valuable label.”
The guayabera has several distinguishing features — either two or four patch pockets and two vertical rows of “alforzas,” fine, tiny pleats, sewn closely together, running along the front and back of the shirt. One Cuban legend says it was created by a poor countryside seamstress sewing large patch-pockets onto her husband’s shirts so he could carry carrying guava fruit from the field.
Obama’s custom guayabera will be made of “linen and 100% natural fibers that originate in a region in France called Normandy, after they will go to Ireland and Poland, so the fibers we will work with will be Irish and Polish,” said Gomez.
Gomez has made the popular Caribbean shirt for some of Colombia’s most famous figures including Alejandro Obregon and Gabriel Garcia Marquez, who wears the guayaberas with a tie.
“Making a guyabera is not something that can be delegated. All of the embroidery is done by hand. I cut the piece and the borders, and single mothers finish the details by hand, and then we tailor the custom shirt together,” said the veteran designer.
People like Bill Gates, John McCain, and King Juan Carlos of Spain have also ordered guayaberas after Juan Pablo Montoya made them fashionable by wearing one on his wedding day.