A trip to Quito provides abundant opportunities to bring home traditional handicrafts and delicacies. The challenge is finding shops that sell items that are made exclusively in Ecuador and employ native materials. In an era of ever-increasing globalization, shops supporting local artisans are getting harder to find. Here’s a selection of our favorite stores offering 100 percent Ecuadorian-made goods.
A Panama hat is an ideal accessory to bring on a trip to the Galápagos Islands, where protection from the intense equatorial sun is key. Though these hats made of toquilla straw originate in Ecuador, their former distribution by ship of out Panama — plus their increased visibility during construction of the Panama Canal — caused the hat to become inextricably linked with the isthmus. While most visitors to Quito head to Casa Montecristi to purchase a Panama hat, we prefer the capital’s branch of Homero Ortega, in the high-end La Floresta neighborhood (its flagship store is in Cuenca). Run by the fifth-generation descendants of the Ortega family, the boutique presents an array of top-quality Panama hats made of the finest and most flexible fibers. The staff is exceptionally helpful and clearly passionate about the brand. We arrived near closing time, but they displayed no impatience, encouraging us to take our time browsing. The hats, handwoven by artisans in the Ecuadorian countryside, were beautifully displayed in a wide range of sizes. This is not the most famous shop in town (Homero Ortega’s flagship store is in Cuenca), but it’s a boutique of the highest caliber.
Avenida Isabel la Católica N24-100 y Madrid. Tel. (593) 2-252-6715