HAVANA — From old-school, slick suits to American-flag prints, fashion on this city’s streets represents a country with one foot in the past and its eyes on the future.
Fashion is embedded in Cuban culture, with African and Spanish influences as well as a dedication to color. The classic embroidered guayabera shirt, ubiquitous throughout Latin culture, is said to have come from a Cuban province. As the story goes, laborers made shirts out of bed sheets and added pockets for carrying cigars. In 2010, the Cuban government made it the official dress code of state functions.
For women, traditional dress was the Bata Cubana, a brightly colored rumba dress with ruffled, flowing sleeves and a billowy skirt. These days, the Bata is reserved for cabaret costumes or formal occasions.
Modern-day shopping in Cuba is limited. Mass-produced, utilitarian clothing is the norm, with famous brands in only a handful of Havana stores due to strict laws surrounding sales and franchising of foreign businesses. And citizens have little access to mass media and the Internet to influence dress. But none of that stops Cubans from expressing their personal style — fashion there is dictated by the people themselves.
By Lara Naaman, Yahoo