Apr 12, 2023 - News

A tailored take on traditional guayaberas is empowering Latinas

Side-by-side photos show women modeling white and beige guayaberas with embroidered flowers.

Melissa Rojas (left) and Arlene Saldaña Galindo model the Chasing Camilla cropped guayaberas. Photos: Courtesy of Melissa Rojas

Guayaberas, the shirts traditionally worn by men throughout Latino culture, are emerging as a fashion statement for Latinas throughout San Antonio and South Texas.

What's happening: Melissa Rojas, who owns the online boutique Chasing Camilla, reinvented the classic linen guayaberas by tailoring the smock-like shirts and cropping them to be more feminine.

Why it matters: Miss Fiesta 2014 Sophia Campos, a Chasing Camilla customer, tells Axios wearing a shirt traditionally worn by authoritative or respected Latino men is an empowering fashion statement for a younger generation of Latinas.

Context: The shirts originated in Cuba but evolved and transformed throughout Latin America, including Mexico, according to a report in the Tampa Bay Times.

  • Guayaberas have been worn throughout history by figures like César Chávez and fathers at weddings.
  • Rojas' variation seems to be a first in its evolution.

What she did: Rojas' design idea developed last year when she cropped a guayabera that she was wearing as a swimsuit coverup and the compliments poured in. She decided to add the shirts to her store for $69.

  • Alicia Treviño her godmother, tailors the men's shirts from Mexico into the cropped version.
  • The cropped guayaberas are now her bestselling item.
  • Rojas, who is based in Donna, sells the shirts at pop-ups in San Antonio and during online "drops." This season is busy as many customers prep for Fiesta.

Flashback: Melinda Adams, program director of the fashion management department at the University of Incarnate Word, tells Axios that Rojas' reconstruction of the shirts reminds her of the 1980s and 1990s when power suits for women became popular.

What they're saying: Campos tells Axios her cropped guayabera is a "front-runner" in her Fiesta wardrobe.

  • "It's such a creative, modern take on the classic shirt we've seen our fathers and tíos wear. Wearing it elicits cultural pride and her cropped version is a great play on traditionally masculine clothing," Campos says.
  • "It's for the women who are assertive, who know what they want. I feel like things are different now and the fashion is shifting with the women we're becoming," Rojas says.

What's next: Rojas will share updates on restocks or local pop-up dates on Instagram.


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