Issue 13: Fashion

Published January 2013

The story of fashion in Hawai‘i is really the story of aloha in Hawai‘i. This issue celebrates themes of aloha, family, heritage and self-realization.


The story of fashion in Hawai‘i is really the story of aloha in Hawai‘i. In its simplest form, aloha is used to welcome and bid farewell; to express love; and paired with the right word, to greet morning, noon or evening. But an early lesson taught to children by ancient Hawaiians presents aloha as much more complex, used to define one’s place in the world, and essentially, a code to live by:

Aloha is being a part of all, and all being a part of me. When there is pain – it is my pain. When there is joy – it is also mine. I respect all that is as part of the Creator and part of me. I will not willfully harm anyone or anything. When food is needed I will take only my need and explain why it is being taken. The earth, the sky, the sea are mine to care for, to cherish and to protect. This is Hawaiian – this is Aloha!

According to kahuna David Bray, living with the aloha spirit is to realize one’s breath and body and to live in harmony with one’s self before being able to spread that love out to others. The spirit of aloha was even written into state law in 1986 as “The Aloha Spirit Law.” The aloha behind this code of conduct is defined as such in the following unuhi laulā loa, or free translation, written by kūpuna Auntie Pilahi Paki:

“Akahai,” meaning kindness to be expressed with tenderness;
“Lokahi,” meaning unity, to be expressed with harmony;
“Oluolu,” meaning agreeable, to be expressed with pleasantness;
“Haahaa,” meaning humility, to be expressed with modesty;
“Ahonui,” meaning patience, to be expressed with perseverance.

This spirit of aloha radiates out from each and every one of us, from those who have spent their entire lives here to those who have more recently come to call Hawai‘i their home. Inevitably, this spirit of aloha is present in every part of our culture, despite our best efforts to mimic places worlds away or to look outside the islands to find a mold that fits.

To establish Hawai‘i as a place for fashion, we should adhere to that which makes us unique from any place else, which as it turns out, means to just be ourselves. This issue celebrates exactly that, highlighting themes of aloha, family, heritage and self-realization and focuses on individuals passionate for their crafts and dedicated to finding perfection in whatever they do. The rest of the world seems to be fascinated by what Hawai‘i has to offer. Isn’t it time that we are too?

Radiant South

Ascending the refurbished spiral steps of a modernized red brick building off of King Street in Honolulu’s downtown, I come upon Ari in her swanky atelier doing what she is always doing: working. She sits near the center of three rows of unmanned workstations. “Sorry, I’ll be right with you. This machine is giving me trouble,” she says as she lines up thread[...]


The clothes that have defined our islands, and four brands that are defining its future I can’t remember the first time I saw an aloha shirt. Growing up in Colorado, it may have been on a friend’s dad recently returned from that long-awaited vacation in Hawai‘i, or in a Hollywood spin like 50 First Dates. Not until I moved to O‘ahu did I realize that [...]

Looking Inward

Name: Dee Occupation: Retiree, student and volunteer in the arts Age: 60+ City: Waimanalo What article of clothing first sparked your interest in fashion? Discovering Diane von Furstenberg and Elie Tahari dresses at Neiman Marcus. What article of clothing defines your fashion sense? My Turkish gold bangles and Tahitian black pearl necklace [...]

Some Things Gold Can Stay

Images by John Hook I would hear that sound, that clanging, and it would take me back. I was an infant once, and maybe they clanged while she rocked me to sleep. And I was a child once, and maybe they clanged while she washed the dishes, or shook a finger at me, or clapped between tears at graduation. But I grew up, and I could still hear it. Even on the [...]

S.TORY Standards

Roofing, come to find out, has more in common with swimsuits than you might think. “You have to make sure the construction of both is sound, especially when you’re dealing with materials that expand and contract and have to withstand the elements,” says Sandra Tory. “And hey, these are important parts you’re covering!” During the day, Tory, along with he[...]
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