• The garment industry complains that many guayaberas sold in the Centro Histórico are not authentic. Photo: Sipse

Mérida, Yucatán — Protective of the region’s iconic shirt known as the guayabera, the garment industry is going to war against what they see as piracy.

Companies not certified by the National Chamber of the Garment Industry (Canaive) to produce authentic guayaberas are considered makers of fake guayaberas.

The comfortable, straight-hemmed shirt, designed to be worn untucked, is a symbol of Latin American culture. It is sometimes called the “Mexican Wedding Shirt” because it’s considered suitable for men in formal ceremonies.

Canaive President Viktor Rayek Mizrahi declared his organization’s commitment to promote the garments while combating copycats and under-the-table businesses.

Underground activity in the country and in the southeast damages considerably the garment industry, and the guayabera has not escaped that scourge that impacts the economy of formally established companies, he said.

“We are trying to defend the national clothing industry from piracy and one of the best ways is through promotion; then we must shield regional iconic creations like the guayabera,” said Rayek Mizrahi.

Interviewed at Semana de Yucatán en México, a weeklong expo in Mexico City that highlights the peninsula’s distinctive goods, Rayek Mizrahi told Sipse that the way to fight piracy is to formalize.

“Through promotion it is sought that consumers buy certified brands and in formal places, made in the country, that will help greatly to counter the phenomenon of piracy,” he said.

“Informal” merchants, selling shirts from manufacturers that operate under the radar and whose quality is not vetted by the garment industry, have generated constant complaints from legitimate businesses. In Mérida, they bedevil their competitors by setting up shop where tourists roam near the Plaza Grande.

Those tourists often buy guayaberas created in shops that are not Yucatecan.

Although many countries lay claim to the original Guayabera, Yucatán has found export markets in the United States, South America and Europe, particularly Spain, as well as Guatemala and Puerto Rico.

A garment industry official said Yucatán even sends the shirts to Cuba, where some believe the guayabera actually originated. (Another version of the story says that Cuba copied Yucatán.)

Canaive promoting the garment under a program that roughly translates to “This is the guayabera, this is Yucatan.” Thirty manufacturers are affiliated with the promotion.

With information from Sipse

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