Xe’il, meaning “True to our Roots” – a meaningful brand designed and developed to provide a source of economic empowerment to Mayan women and showcase the dawn of a fashion era emerging from Southern Belize. The establishment of Xe’il started in October of 2019 and was executed by the Sarstoon Temash Institute for Indigenous Management (SATIIM) with financial support from The Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) through its Cultural and Creative Industries Innovative Fund (CIIF) to position Maya women as national artists and bring their creative products to a wider market, starting with new fashion designs adorned with Xokb’il Chuy. The name Xe’il was developed in consultation with Maya stakeholders, such as Mr. Julio Saqui, the Toledo Maya Cultural Council (TMCC), Kekchi Council of Belize (KCB), the Ixk’äntz’iit women’s cooperative from San Antonio in Toledo and the Fajina craft center.
Xokb’il Chuy, or counted stitches, is the name of a Mopan Maya embroidery that turns geometry into art. True to its name, patterns are sewn using a complex counting system. The designs depict motifs from Maya stories, such as the sun, moon and animals or plants found in their environment. Against the odds, Maya women have kept their language and culture alive, one stitch at a time. While the Mopan Maya language is anticipated to go extinct in a matter of decades, the counted stitches practice is a living gift bestowed by one generation to the next and has been transmitted from mothers to daughters for hundreds of years. Xe’il is a form of haute couture that has elements of ‘bespoke ‘ fashion constructed by hand from start to finish, made from high-quality fabric and sewn with extreme attention to detail using time-consuming, hand-executed techniques, also known as a ‘slow stitch’ SATIIM engaged a local team for the creation of Xe’il which included attorney and intellectual property consultant: Marissa Longsworth / brand designer and marketing consultant: Tanya McNab / Photographer: Chester Wade and most importantly local fashion designer: Ronelli Requena, owner of Zayvha Sarai.
Ronelli designed the premier collection of garments under this new brand titled: Yahtz’il pronounced (yasil) meaning ‘beloved’ through numerous consultations with the Maya women of the San Antonio Village in the Toledo District. In collaboration with the Ixk’äntz’iit women’s cooperative from San Antonio Toledo, Ronelli also trained women within the village to sew these clothing as ready-to-wear items created with the conscious consumer in mind. The premiere collection includes 4 items for women and 1 for men, available in 3 different sizes. The collection will be released on October 12th, 2021 at 11:00am Belize time at @xe.ilbelize on Facebook – direct link: https://fb.me/e/2AS8kH2sD
While the word Maya is now a Mesoamerican brand on everything from airlines and chocolate, its profits have eluded the Maya people. It is also hoped that Xe’il will be recognized as unique national brand by all those who walk on the road to the sun known as Belize.
The collection will be available for sale starting Monday, October 18th, 2021. For ordering information please contact SATIIM at +501-615-8536 or via the Facebook Page at www.facebook.com/xe.ilbelize