LAS TABLAS, Panama – Renewed enthusiasm for the traditional Panamanian costume known as the “pollera” is creating an opening for entrepreneurs in the Central American nation.
Consisting of a fine ruffled blouse and a long, elegantly elaborate skirt, a pollera can sell for as much as $7,000 to $12,000, while the entire ensemble – including jewelry and accessories – can run $15,000.
So, it’s no surprise that many women choose to rent a pollera for around $1,000.
This town in the central province of Los Santos played host last Saturday to the 15th annual Parade of 1,000 Polleras, which actually included 15,000 women attired in the traditional costume.
Jessica Diaz de Ruiz, who owns a pollera-rental business, was nearly run off her feet preparing more than a dozen clients for the parade, a process that can take as long as three hours with hair and makeup.
Diaz de Ruiz, who has an inventory of 25 luxury polleras representing a range of styles, told EFE while attending to a young woman that there are enough heritage events, carnivals and municipal festivals to make her business profitable.
Obtaining the polleras is no easy task, she said, as it involves visiting countless tiny workshops in Los Santos.
“The whole attire can take up to a year to complete,” Diaz de Ruiz said.
Young people are becoming increasingly interested in learning to make polleras to earn a living, according to folklorist Jose Oreste Cano, who pointed to the existence of specialized training courses.