Traditional Clothing in Ecuador

Some of the examples of traditional clothing of Ecuador

Ecuadorians stick to their traditional, native clothes, which serves as a material statement of cultural diversity. Those familiar with the country’s cultural heritage can easily deduce a local’s province by checking for unusual clothing.

In this article, we will briefly describe each traditional clothing in the different regions of Ecuador.

The Otavaleños in Otavalo

Friendly locals in Otavalo Ecuador

The indigenous Otavaleos are a familiar sight in Quito. The majority of the Otavaleos live in and around Otavalo, a little town around 80 kilometers north of Quito. The males are easily identified by their white calf-length trousers, poncho, and fedora or felt hat.

The Shimba, a long braid that the Otavaleos men grow to reach their waists, is also part of their distinct culture. Because the Shimba is such an important symbol of Ecuadorian indigenous culture, the Ecuadorian army does not ask males to trim their Shimbas while enlisting.

Women wear similarly, albeit their hues are frequently opposite those of the men. Otavaleño women typically wear a white shirt with a blue or black skirt, while males wear white slacks with a blue poncho.

While women frequently use shawls as an adornment, jewelry has a deeper cultural significance. Otavalo ladies, in particular, wear gold bead necklaces and red coral bracelets. The women’s traditional attire is the most like an Inca ensemble found anyplace in the Andes.

Sierra Women From The Highlands

Sierra Women From The Highlands of Ecuador

Women from various communities in the Sierra wear brightly colored pleated skirts with needlework at the hems. However, because communities are so diverse, they may have their own variants of dress or headwear. Women frequently wear woolen shawls to carry purchases or babies on their backs.

Tribes of the Ecuadorian Amazon’s Tropical Rainforest

Clothing of Amazonian people in Ecuador

Various tribes from Ecuador’s tropical jungle still use traditional feathered headdresses and other decorations with ethnic or tribal meanings. Despite the fact that many young members of these tribes can mix and match these clothing accessories with others of a more western style.

The Coastal Townspeople

Traditional clothing of coastal people in Ecuador

The Coast town is located between mountains and the sea and has lost many cultural and traditional customs. In most situations, their traditional dress is not unlike that of the Sierra people. Although there are coastal villages that do not wear traditional garb.

Today, males in coastal areas generally wear ‘Guayaberas,’ a loose-fitting shirt that often replaces a jacket, while women typically wear light dresses. However, certain ethnic groups have more distinct clothing characteristics.

The Montubio People

The people of Montubio (which includes the provinces of Manab, Los Roses, Guayas, and Santa Elena) are known for their cowboy hats and machetes. They wear rubber boots but do not have traditional clothing.


Traditional clothing of Tsáchila people in Ecuador

The Tsáchila is another well-known cultural group. Although the word Tsáchila literally means “genuine people,” the Spanish started calling them Colorados, which means “red-colored people.”They live in the subtropical lowlands of Santo Domingo county, which is today known as Santo Domingo de Los Tsáchila.

Despite the fact that the Tsáchila no longer conforms to their traditional dress norms, they can still be seen wearing their characteristic striped clothes. Women wear exuberant skirts horizontally striped with bright colors, while males wear more serious black or blue skirts striped with white.

Color identity extends beyond the Tsáchila’s attire and into their persona. They got their moniker from the practice of dyeing their hair and bodies with achiote dye. If their red hair doesn’t give it away, check for a distinct hairstyle.

Traditionally, males shave the hair on the sides and use oil to solidify the remaining hair into a peaked cap. According to legend, the Tsáchila did not begin painting themselves with red paint till the Spanish arrived, carrying smallpox with them. The shamans felt that the achiote dye functioned as a cure for the death-wielding illness.

Bottom Line

Ecuador is a country in the Andean area with a rich culture and tradition, which will be represented in the traditional dress that is still in use in various places. However, because Ecuador is made up of so many different communities, there is no universal traditional attire.

Ecuador consists of different tribes from different regions and so their traditional clothing varies. 

Nonetheless, it is undeniable that the country has an interesting history including its tribal communities.

About the author

Oleg Galeev

I'm Oleg, and together with my wife, we've explored Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands, journeying through more than 20 cities (Quito, Cuenca, Banos, Tena, Puyo, Guayaquil, Riobamba, Otavalo, Mindo and more) and nearly every island in the Galapagos (including iconic ones such as Bartolome Island, San Cristobal Island, Isabela Island, Santa Cruz Island and more). In this blog, I give you my real thoughts about each place we visited. This info can help anyone planning a trip to the Galapagos Islands or mainland Ecuador. I'm just a traveler, not a tour company, so I'm not trying to sell anything. That means I'll tell you the truth—both the good and the bad — about traveling in Ecuador based on what we experienced.

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