Textiles from Ecuador
Excavations in Ecuador have revealed pieces of pottery with the imprint of woven textile on them. It is apparent that yarn was spun on spindles and spun into cloth even during the time of the Incas. Textiles obviously were of great importance in Ecuador and have been since then.
Even today Ecuador is known for its high quality textiles and innovative designs that are available at a low cost. Ecuador produces and exports spun yarn, fabrics, material for industrial production as well as finished clothing, apparel and household items. It exports these to the United States, Colombia, Chile, Brazil, Venezuela and Peru.
As the fabric and apparel is made entirely from produce of the Andean region it is eligible for duty free import to the U.S. under the Andean Trade Promotion and Drug Eradication Act (ATPDEA). Producers are willing to oblige buyers by manufacturing goods to their specification. This is possible as the yarns, woven and knit fabrics, as well as the entire production of apparel are controlled by them. They can control quality and costs from fiber to final shipment.
Otavalo is known for its market and Saturday is the day to visit the stalls for the best in Ecuadorian textiles. In the 1960s the Otavaleños working at Hacienda Zuleta learnt weaving techniques introduced from Scotland. The material they wove was called Otavaleño cashmere. It was low priced and of high quality and became popular with customers in Ecuadorian cities. The weavers diversified their products and established themselves throughout the country.
Today over 80% of the Otavaleños are connected with the textile industry and the products have reached the markets of Venezuela, Colombia, United States, Europe and even Asia. The Otavalans wear ponchos made of thick wool dyed blue with indigo that is imported from abroad. The clothes usually have a collar and gray or plaid fabric on the inside. Ponchos are also made of synthetic materials which are less expensive but more garish.
Certain ethnic textile products in Ecuador include fajas, long cloth strips used by indígenas in the Sierra to tie back long hair. Broader strips called cintas or calluas are used as belts and woven in La Compañía on the other side of Lago San Pablo.