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Oct 12, 2021

SATIIM Launches Xe’il Clothing Line

Fashion shows are not common these days, given the COVID-19 pandemic. But that did not stop the Sarstoon Temash Institute for Indigenous Management from bringing a group of Mopan Maya women together with a Belizean fashion designer.  Today, about two years after they began the creative collaboration, the Xe’il brand clothing line was official launched.  News Five found out more about a purposeful brand developed to provide economic empowerment to Mayan women in southern Belize.


Duane Moody, Reporting

Xe’il, which means true to our roots, is a new clothing line that has been developed by Maya women from San Antonio Village. Established in October of 2019 and executed by SATIIM, through funding from the Caribbean Development Bank, it brought together modern fashion design with a Mayan twist; the embroidery of the Mopan Maya women from southern Belize.


Maya Choc

Maya Choc, Executive Director, SATIIM

“It started back with her Excellency Froyla T’zalam; she was a big part of this as the former Executive Director of SATIIM. And really what we wanted to do is create economic opportunity for Mayan women. Through this project we have been able to revitalise some of these practices, the embroidery especially. When you look around, we are seeing how little by little we are losing our culture. We are being socialised in society and so for us it is important to preserve our culture. And how do we go about doing that? And so we went about asking the question what would make you want to wear that clothing. And it started from asking Mayan women because they are the ones who wear them usually. Now it is asking the younger generation how would you want to wear the clothing.”


Fashion designer Ronelli Requeña from San Ignacio, Cayo, was brought in to work with the women. She helped with the sketching of the designs that cater to everyone and can be used in the workplace, going to a dinner and even out for cocktails. Her knowledge of embroidery along with the tradition of the Mopan Mayan women was infused into the garments.


Ronelli Requeña

Ronelli Requeña, Designer

“They are amazing. I got to meet them last year for the first time and basically get that idea and essence of who they really are so we can put those ideas, their little stories that they have and the vision that we have for the project into this one collection – what we call the Yahtz’il “Beloved Collection.” When you think about the Maya clothing, you think about modesty, the femininity, but still keeping that tradition into it. So you have the quadrado shirt with this beautiful, elaborate embroidery which a lot us don’t know that they actually have a lot of meaning. So each of the embroidery, each of the pieces have a lot of meaning so each of the pieces has a story. So either the birds, they have some with the turtles, some with little dogs on it. Even the diamonds, they have a story, they have a meaning to each of these stuff.”


So where can you get these unique pieces?


Maya Choc

“It’s authentic, it is not a machine made in china kinda thing. We have the women who literally sit down and they create these pieces, stitching one stitch at a time. But for now, we have it on our Facebook, Instagram – we are taking orders from there – and we also have a large number coming in from WhatsApp, email, people just reaching out wanting to get a piece of the clothing. So that’s where it is for now until we get our website up and running.”


Duane Moody for News Five.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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