Ida: Spain’s Fashion to the Americas by Daniella Stalingovskis
In this project, the main focus will be pertaining to Spain’s influence within the fashion realm and what has the Americas borrowed from them in this transatlantic dynamic dialogue. We will examine the brief history and impact of Spain’s influence and power throughout different eras ranging from the Moors dominating Spain, during 1492 where the Catholics defeated the Moors and exiled them, and after the Age of Conquests where the New World was discovered by Christopher Columbus and conquered during that time. While examining fashion trends and habits, we will also expand on societal roles in Spain and its changes and similarities when compared to the Americas, particularly to women and the natives. This project will also examine how Spain has had their fair share of the fashion industry in the global market in the current period. The project revolves around various cultures and religious impacts towards Spain and the influence towards the Americas and how those differing choices of styles and accessories benefited the population in the New World whether it be the Islamic tapadas or the Catholic guardainfante dresses. It is difficult to ignore the diverse mix of cultures and religions that developed Spain’s history and its influence towards the Americas.
The Moorish Empire in Spain:
Before the Catholic monarchy dominated Spain and exiled the Jewish and Muslim population, the country was ruled by the Moors from 711 A.D to 1492. The Moors were a general population of people who were of northern African descent and predominantly of Muslim faith. They were led by general Tariq bin Ziyad and defeated the Visigoths by crossing from North Africa to Gibraltar and continued to dominate the majority of Spain until the fall of Granada in 1492.
Society During Moorish Rule:
The Moorish society at the beginning was seen as more tolerant than other periods of conquests and domination periods. It was depicted diverse with Muslims, Christians, and Jews having similar rights, but the Christians and the Jews had more restrictive policies than the Muslims did and were seen as second-class citizens. Even though the non-Muslim citizens had the right to follow their beliefs and were not forced to convert, they had to declare that Islamic influence and power is superior, avoid converting Muslim citizens, and had restrictions when attempting to build their churches or synagogues. The true dynamic between citizens with differing religions in Moorish Spain is still debated by historians with some saying that the Muslims showed contempt to non-Muslims and some saying the non-Muslims were treated as the bottom of the social hierarchy. Nonetheless, the Jews and Christians were not persecuted nor forced into slavery for their differing beliefs. Some reasons as to why the non-Muslims were mostly tolerated was because Christianity and Judaism are monotheistic like Islam and the number of Christians outnumbered the population of Muslims so converting them would be risky and expensive to accomplish. However, around the 11th century, the Muslim rule became more repressive towards non-Muslims and tensions became stronger which led to the Muslim reign to decline and Christian rulers reclaiming some land from the Moors. In addition, the Muslim rulers of the kingdom were divisive with one another, enabling the Christian rulers to shatter the kingdom and conquer Spain once more.
Women in Moorish Spain:
Similar to the non-Muslims in Moorish Spain, women were also generally seen as second-class citizens but also had some rights and privileges. However, women did not have as much freedoms compared to a Muslim man, but a Muslim woman was depicted to have more freedoms than a Christian or Jewish man. Some freedoms that a woman can obtain in Islamic Spain was protections from violence and theft, the ability to purchase or sell goods as well as owning or inheriting property and being able to seek employment. Some of the more repressive laws against women were that husbands could domestically abuse their wives, limited rights to inheritance, and only men could initiate the divorce process had more leverage in court than women did. Another common restriction that is noticeable in both Islamic and Christian Spain is the restriction of women wearing certain dresses and accessories since there were high expectations of modesty. In many cases, the freedoms of women could be heightened through marriage. A current wife could prevent a husband from having a second wife or a concubine despite polygamy being allowed in traditional Islamic law. Although discouraged, a Christian or Jewish woman could rise on the social hierarchy ladder by marrying a Muslim man and can earn more rights than a non-Muslim would. The idea of tolerating interfaith marriage was a stark contrast of the previous kingdom’s policies from the Visigoths where interfaith marriage would result with the man being executed and half of the woman’s property would be confiscated. There is a nuance concerning women’s rights during the Moorish period as it was a mix of some freedoms and repressions for them, but they were still seen as inferior to their male counterparts and were not seen as equals during this period due to the very apparent restrictions.
In Moorish fashion, women would wear veils on their faces called the tapado. The term translates to English as the covered one which correlates as to how the accessory was used during that time. The veiling accessory was popular among Muslim women and eventually adopted by Christian women and wore them both in Spain and the Americas during the 16th and 17th century. However, the men and policymakers did not like the women partaking in wearing the tapado. The tapado gave women many freedoms in the city such as having anonymity and having their social status hidden. Between 1586 to 1639 there were multiple laws passed to restrict the use of the veils in the name of Christianity. To the legislators of Spain, most notably Cortes de Castilla in 1586, petitioned to King Philip II saying that they perceived the tapadas as an offense to God since women had the freedom of anonymity, that men could not recognize the women and approach them for their exoticism and alluring mysterious presence and even accusing men of wearing tapados themselves to perform sinful acts. The monarchy imposed these laws but saw no significant change in Madrid, Seville, or in Lima. This controversy allowed artists and writers to depict and reinforce the idea and theme that veiled women were seductive and mysterious during the late 16th century. In Peru, tapadas were well known in Lima since many of the converted Moors and Muslims would flee there as their new home. These women in Lima were known as Las Tapadas Limeñas and these veils were seen more as a rebellion to allow women the freedom to wear what they want and continued to do so despite policies attempting to forbid them of wearing them.
Tocas de Camino:
Also known as the alhareme and the more common term toque, the Tocas de camino were a specific style of headdress that is known to be similar as a turban in Moorish Spain. It was also adopted by the Christians in the mid-15th century and was considered as a national headdress since it was popular in the early 17th century. In Spain, it would be worn by essentially any social ranking. However, in the New World, it was also commonly worn but for a different purpose. The Spanish rulers wanted to provide an alluring, exotic, and distinguished idea of Iberian fashion to spread the European image and accomplished this by gathering articles of clothing that described at the time of Iberian fashion. Since the toca was so commonly worn, it was included with the image of an Iberian person. Then, the accessory was served to distinguish the noble Spaniards from the lower classes and natives. The toca has also evolved over time with thinner fabrics and covering the very back of the head and extended through the neck and chest while being adorned with jewels.
Chopines, Chapines, and the Guatemalan Chapíns:
The Moors had developed the origins of a high-platformed heel called the chapine which is now currently known as the chopine shoe. These types of shoes were very popular in both Spain and in Venice. They created the shoes either out of cork or from wood and served various purposes. The peasants would wear these to keep women elevated from getting their feet wet from dirt and mud. On the other hand, the upper-class women would wear these shoes to flaunt and establish their wealth and had more luxurious versions of these shoes. The shoes then went out of style around the 1730s due the modern heel being established that society uses today. However, one could assume that a more modern type of the chopine is back in the fashion market. It has seen a resurgence in the Americas and all around the world since the 1990s and has been somewhat popular in the modern market and sells them in the form of either sneakers or open-toed sandals or heels in the name of high-top platform shoes. In Guatemala, the people that live there nowadays call themselves a chapín. This term originated because of the Spaniards that immigrated from Spain and settled there. They would point out the clunky shoes and the non-Guatemalan people would use this term originally as an insult regarding as someone who is not noble and pretended as if they were. However, the term’s meaning shifted when Guatemala gained independence in 1821 and use it as a prideful term to describe the Guatemalan population.
The Golden Age of Conquests:
The Rise and Fall of Fashion Influence in Catholic Spain:
In 1492, it was a pivotal year for Spain due to the Catholics conquering from the previous Moorish empire and Christopher Columbus’s discovery of the New World. These events had led the Catholic monarchy a drastic increase in power, wealth, luxury, and influence in the fashion sphere. Due to multiple resources that the Americas offered such as gold, jewels, log wood (Haematoxylum campechianum), the Spanish dominated in fashion with their black, green, or red farthingales embroidered with golden or silver trimmings and stunning pearls and rubies. Whether it be in the Royal Court or in the Americas, the nobles and elite would wear the extravagant outfits to flaunt their upper-class status and reinforce the European culture to the natives no matter how time-consuming and uncomfortable some of the outfits were. Spain had spread their popular styles in France, England, Holland, and Austria where they borrowed and incorporated the same styles. It was until the mid-17th century when Spain lost its popularity and France took the lead in fashion.
Farthingales and the Guardainfante Controversy:
The origins of the Spanish farthingale dress began with the verdugo which appeared in 1470 which involved rigid hoops to make the skirts in the dresses stick out in a cone or bell shape by having a small hoop just below the waist and then larger hoops further down the dress. Then in the 16th and 17th century, it evolved into a type of farthingale called the guardainfante. This dress had a wider skirt and gave more of a prominent bell shape from the waist down. It sparked controversy because the dress’s reputation of being worn to hide illegitimate pregnancies, despite no consistent data proving the accusation. Another reason why it was criticized was because men thought women wore the dresses to challenge their authority since it gave women more personal space and they accused women of hiding items underneath the large skirts. It was declared banned to every woman but prostitutes in 1639 by King Phillip IV. However, the ban did not succeed in censoring the outfits because the dresses were still being worn in the royal families. The dress was also popular in Portugal and Latin America, specifically in Mexico where the women thought the dress was very elegant. The guardainfante dwindled in popularity around the world at the end of the 18th century but the Spanish were stubborn in losing the tradition and continued to wear an evolved version called the tontillo, also known as the pannier.
Gauchos, Vaqueros, and the Cowboys:
The gaucho, vaquero, and modern cowboy outfits differ from each other but has the same origins in 12th century Spain where cattle herders wore vests, spurred boots, and tight trousers. The three variations of the costume are different because it was a form of adaptation to their varying environments. In the gaucho outfit, their most recognizable features are the calzoncillos, which are breeches, and the Chiripá which are baggy pants worn over the calzoncillos. The gauchos who lived in Argentina and Chile wore ponchos to protect themselves from the Andes Mountain’s weather conditions. They also wear coin decorated belt buckles called the cinturones. The vaqueros in Mexico is considered to be the direct ancestor of the American cowboy. They kept the spurred boots, the sombrero, and bolero jacket like their Spanish origin, but they differ because they wore armas and chaparjos which were cowhide slabs that served as protective gear from the thorny bushes in the Americas. The modern cowboy that has the most well-known outfit usually wears Stetson hats, denim jeans, fancy embellished belt buckles, and high-heeled boots. These outfits vary throughout the New World due to differing environmental changes, but it traces all the way back to the cattle herders in Spain.
Mantillas and the Peineta vs. Peinetón
In 1721, a traditional shawl made from silk with floral motifs called the mantilla had risen in popularity in Spain and in Mexico. These were seen as family heirlooms as they were commonly passed down from older generations. They would also be accompanied with a Spanish comb called the peineta would also be seen alongside with the flamenco dress style with the shawl’s variation,
mantón de manila. The depiction of women wearing mantillas while listening to their lovers playing guitar had spread from Spain to Mexico and the Philippines. The mantilla used to be worn by upper-class women but then lost their popularity and only lower-class women, gypsies and flamenco dresses wore them. Referring back to the Spanish comb named the peineta, it was challenged by the Argentine women from the postcolonial movement. They would wear a 3 ft by 3 ft comb on their heads called the peinetón to assert Argentine presence to distance themselves from Spanish authority and for female independence. It was a short-lived fashion accessory only spanning from 1832 to 1836.
Social Roles and Las Castas:
Women’s Roles in Spain:
Similar to the Moorish period, women in Catholic Spain also were seen as inferior to men and had multiple restrictions compared to their male counterparts. During the 16th and 17th century, women in Spain were not allowed to learn how to write nor were they able to participate in the professional workforce. Most were expected to be either a homemaker or a nun. To run a business or gain more privileges, a woman would have to be a widow to inherit certain businesses and properties but the inheritance would still be restrictive. The common theme of women’s education was preparing for marriage and the responsibilities of being married with a potential family. They were excluded from professional institutions and their opinions were discredited. For the most part, women were seen as a fragile being that needed protection, irrational, and physically and morally weaker than men. They also perceived feminine sexuality as dangerous because they thought it gave men “temptations” to commit sinful acts. There are also many common themes of restrictions of clothing and the freedoms those pieces of attire provided.
Women’s Roles in the Americas:
When the New World was discovered in 1492, there was a sizable number of Spaniards that decided to emigrate to the new location. From data collected of emigrants from 1493 to 1600, there was a total of 54,881 men and only 10,118 women who moved to the New World. The reason why the number of women was less than the amount of men was because single women who were not married was much less likely to receive authorization to travel unless she was married to her husband in New Spain. Another method for single women to travel to the New World was for them to be a servant for another traveler. Some reasons as to why women would migrate to the Americas was a better social system due to them having more power in commerce and crafting, being the top of the new hierarchy as a European in the New World, and not having to do many of the household chores such as weaving and cooking since the Natives were used as servants at the time. Some Spanish women also helped alleviate burdens for the militia in the Americas by doing various chores for them such as washing clothes, caring the injured, and sometimes had to defend themselves when the men were away from the garrisons. Some examples of women who fought alongside with the conquistadors were Doña Isabel de Guevara of Argentina and Doña Inez Suarez of Chile. In the households, the Spanish wife would serve as the foundation of preserving the Spanish European traditions and culture in the family. The wives would also try to maintain cultural standards such as speaking only in Spanish, sewing and embroidering in European designs and celebrating Catholicism. In modern Latin America, many middle-class and upper-class households have domesticated servants to do the house chores and sometimes take care of the kids when the parents are working. In some cases, the servants have their own small private room in the same house, so they can do the chores in a timely matter and quick access. The typical domestic servant would come from a lower-class background as similar to the past when Spain ruled the New World.
When the Spaniards started to settle to the New World, there would be a mix of people from different heritages due to the Spaniards breeding with the Native population and the African slaves. Because of this, the European colonists would call the mixed children as castas, an Iberian word meaning “lineage”. The term was commonly used in the Americas during the 17th and 18th century to identify the mixed population. In the New World, the Spanish elites created a social system of classes based on race called Las Castas. The origins of this system started in Spain after the Christians took over from the Moors and would examine the blood purity and lineage of their citizens since they did not want people to live in Latin America if they were considered tainted of Moorish or Jewish blood. The four original categories for races would be the Peninsular, Criollo/a, Indio/a, and the Negro/a. Each racial category was given a set of rights and privileges. The peninsular was a Spanish person born from Europe and they were considered the elites of the social hierarchy. Criollos and Criollas were those of Spanish blood but born in the New World. They essentially had almost the same privileges as the peninsular class but were sometimes seen as inferior to them. Indios and Indias were the Natives living in the New World and the Negros and Negras were African slaves sent for forced labor. Other common racial categories were Mestizos, Castizos, Cholos, Mulattos, and Zambos. The Mestizos were a mix of a Spanish and Indian parent, Castizos had a Spanish and Mestizo parent, Cholos were from an Indian and Mestizo parent, Mulattos descended from Spanish and African parents, and Zambos were from their Indian and African parents. There were much more combinations and categories for more complex mixes with common paintings from the 18th century usually reinforcing about 16 categories. These meticulous methods of determining the race of a person would determine their entire lifestyle and socioeconomic standing. The mindset of European superiority has been a common theme throughout the history of colonialism, even with the United States’ history of treating the natives and the African slaves poorly due to their race.
The Modern Spanish Industries:
Despite the history of Spain’s rise and fall in wealth, power, and even in fashion dominance, Spain currently has a good share within the fashion industry with its mass retailers such as ZARA, Mango, and Desigual stores taking over in North and South America. According to the data in 2015, most of Spain’s fashion companies receives their revenue primarily from the global markets with Inditex (owner of Zara, Stradivarius, etc.) making 82.3% of their sales from international markets, MANGO earning 83%, and Desigual making 77% of sales around the world. These leading brands also display their dominant presence around the globe with Inditex having at least one store in 88 countries with 7,013 stores in total and MANGO with 2,700 stores located in 107 countries.
Zara is one of the most well-known Spanish retailers in the fashion market. The company strives to offer trendy clothing with affordable prices to their consumers. The founder, Amancio Ortega, revolutionized the fashion industry during the 1980s in terms of designing, delivering, and developing the fashion collections in a more time-efficient manner. Zara abandoned the traditional method of presenting a new collection since it was time consuming with an average time of six to nine months until another collection would be replaced. To analyze the issue, Inditex would consult with the regional managers about consumer demands and predictions and they found that about 50% of the products were relatively nearby the stores. This discovery allowed the company to manufacture and deliver the new clothing in about three to five weeks which was a drastic time-efficient change. They also decided to reduce the amount of waste by choosing fabrics in only four colors and planned to dye and print on the clothing only if it was near the factories. The result allowed Zara to design and sell 20,000 different products which is a significant increase compared to their competitors only designing around 1,000 to 2,000 products. It is both a cost and time efficient model in the fashion design industry and is applied in numerous other fashion companies currently.
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