Aloha State of Mind

Waikiki Magazine - - ISHOP -

One of the most vis­i­ble sym­bols of Hawai‘i’s aloha spirit can be seen in con­tem­po­rary Hawai­ian fash­ion known as Alo­hawear. Its roots can be traced back to 1820, when New Eng­land mis­sion­ar­ies ar­rived in Hawai‘i. Mis­sion­ary women adapted the lat­est fash­ion in or­der to ac­com­mo­date the large size of ali‘i (roy­alty) women. The de­sign was then altered into a more com­fort­able fit, and the holoku— a loose, floor-length, long-sleeved for­mal dress—was born. The mu‘umu‘u was ini­tially a chemise worn un­der the holoku, and it wasn’t un­til the 1940s—with the in­tro­duc­tion of Hawai­ian prints—that it was con­sid­ered fit to be worn in pub­lic.

The aloha shirt that we know today did not come about un­til the mid-1930s. Shirt-maker Musa-Shiya first used the term in a 1935 ad­ver­tise­ment. How­ever, it was tai­lor Ellery Chun who trade­marked “aloha shirt” in 1936 as tourism in Hawai‘i grew. Af­ter World War II, bolder pat­terns with trop­i­cal im­ages emerged. Rayon shirts called “silkies” be­came pop­u­lar from 1945 to 1955. By the late 1970s, de­signs in­spired by the Hawai­ian cul­ture came about. Even­tu­ally, sub­dued look­ing “re­v­erse print” aloha shirts were in­tro­duced and are now worn daily in of­fices and other work­places through­out Hawai‘i.

Today, the shift to­ward is­land-style re­sort wear gives aloha fash­ion a more cos­mopoli­tan feel. Some aloha shirts may not nec­es­sar­ily fea­ture Hawai­ian prints but have var­i­ous im­ages ar­ranged in a sim­i­lar pat­tern as a tra­di­tional aloha shirt. Visit any cloth­ing store in Waikiki and you will find not just tra­di­tional aloha at­tire but also a va­ri­ety of Hawai­ian print dresses, shorts and ac­ces­sories in­spired by the rich his­tory of a multi-cul­tural so­ci­ety that has made alo­hawear a life­style.

One of the more pop­u­lar lo­cal alo­hawear brands in Hawai‘i is ‘Iolani Sports­wear. For more than 60 years, ‘Iolani has been de­sign­ing and man­u­fac­tur­ing cloth­ing in Hawai‘i. “Our de­sign team does not wait for fash­ion to come to Hawai‘i,” says Carla Kawakami, COO of ‘Iolani. “We go out and find it. Then, we make it hap­pen right here in the heart of Honolulu!” The ‘Iolani brand is de­signed for a young and so­phis­ti­cated cus­tomer. Ac­cord­ing to Kawakami, the 2013 Hol­i­day col­lec­tion will fea­ture a rayon rat­tan two-color print done in black and rasp­berry, as well as a black and cream geo­met­ric knit and a flo­ral knit in black and rasp­berry (to match the rayon rat­tan piece).

Find the ‘Iolani brand at re­tail­ers in Waikiki in­clud­ing Nani’s Gift Shop, Makai Gift Out­let, Hawai­ian Fash­ion Bou­tique and more.

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