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An Unlikely Souvenir

Most tourists purchase magnets, postcards, etc -- but what about fabric?

Sophia Miller - 09/5/22

While traveling in Spain this summer I became privy to the world of Spanish fashion and design. The cities were abundant with Spainards in their bright colors and patterns. The most impressive were the flamenco dancers with their ruffles. As a New Englander I was used to neutral tones, and so I had to absorb the fashion scene. My quest for fabric began one day in Madrid as I walked fifteen minutes across the main drag to the fashion district. It was heaven -- there was fabric store after fabric store. I was used the single, low-stock fabric store a twenty-minute drive away. After admiring the street, I entered Ribes y Casuals, a chain fabric store throughout Spain.

Now it was time for the store. Racks and racks of fabrics, and as a fabric enthusiast, I began scanning the quality and prices. To my surprise, everything was excellent quality and less pricey. I was used to six dollars a yard being a steal. There were fabrics from less than four euro a yard. Soon after I purchased fabric to make a suit when I returned to the US -- for only 18 dollars. I was shocked. Three yards of suiting material would be at least 40 in my corner of the US.

Even though I soon left Madrid for other places, the fabric stores somehow never left me. In Seville, I was staying right next to the fabric district. After watching a flamenco performance and becoming entranced by the women's specific dress shape, I visited the adjacent fabric shop which specialized in flamenco costumes. In Barcelona I yet again found a Ribes y Casuals. In each store the patterns and colors were bright and unique.

Pictured is a Flamenco dancer. The dress is fitted until a little after the hips, where it immediately loosens into a train of ruffles.

When it became time to leave for home, my suitcase was overflowing with various fabrics. Thankfully, it all made it pass the suitcase weight limit. In my mind these lengths of cloth symbolize more than simply purchased fabric; they are souvenirs from my travels. And whenever I wear a garment from those fabrics the memories will follow it like a lingering perfume.

All pictures sourced from Pixabay, attribution-free. All rights go to their respective owners.

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