During holidays, ceremonial days or on special occasions such as weddings, it is common for most Ethiopians to be adorned with artistically made and colorfully embroidered traditional attires. These handmade traditional attires not only serving as wearing apparel for both men and women, but they also embody the diverse tradition and cultural identity of a particular ethnic group and mark the social, marital, religious rank and status of individuals in that specific group. What is more, the costumes create a good impression and stimulate ones self-confident apart from representing national identity and traditions.
As various documents stated, the longstanding handicraft tradition of Ethiopians in producing clothes goes back to many years. Ethiopians for long have been making clothes from cotton through weaving, knitting; and embroidering and decorating various colors on the dresses.
These traditional outfits include cotton dresses (kemis) and netela (wraps woven and decorated with colored woven borders and worn by women), gabbi, kabba, worn by men of different ethnic backgrounds on different occasions and festivals. In earlier years, some of the attires were specifically designed for the royal class, elites and senior officials to distinguish them from the ordinary people in the society.
The light weighted shawls worn by women over kemises (dresses) always have a design made on the borders. On the other way, men wear the gabbi or bulluco, more like a light blanket and made in heavier weights.
In fact, the attires are worn in a manner they best fit the ecological and climatic conditions of the areas. For example, people who reside in the lowlands opt for lighter weight clothing because of the heat, while those people residing in the highlands prefer heavier clothing due to the colder weather.
Even the embroidery patterns vary on a massive scale from tribe to tribe, and from ethnic group to ethnic group which in turn would be a great topic of interest for cultural tourists as well as for the many diverse Ethiopians themselves, as it is enunciated in various documents.
However, at the present time the products are becoming more fashionable and classy in terms of varieties, designs, style and fabrics and in a manner they meet the taste of a number of people.
According to Embet Tsegaye, a shop owner at Shiro Meda Market, a place known for production and selling of varieties of handmade traditional clothes, Ethiopia's traditional clothing is completely unique and fantastic. These days Ethiopian traditional costumes (customarily called 'Ye-habesha Libes') have shown significant improvement and become supremely vibrant and adaptable to change in terms of fashion, design and diverse forms. The introduction of fit for all fashionable dresses, trousers, well designed and decorated shirts, coats and ties as well as gowns are the best indications in this regard.
Currently, these artistically designed and colorfully decorated Ethiopia's cultural costumes are enthralling the interests of not only local people but also those Africans and Westerns. Nowadays, it is not uncommon to see foreigners adorned by Ethiopian cultural clothing, she added.
As to her, many foreigner tourists visit Shiro Meda to purchase Ethiopians' traditional outfits, dresses, shawls, trousers, shirts and gowns are few among others.
As the designs and the fashions are very much enticing, these days it is widely observed for some to wear traditional clothes which are not of their traditional attires, she added.