Aloha wear takes its place in the global fashion market.
In Hawai‘i, aloha shirts and slippers are as commonplace as spam musubi and shakas. Outside of the islands, the “Hawaiian shirt” and “flip flops” are more synonymous with pop culture references to Magnum P.I., casual Fridays at the office, and thongs you wear in the shower at hotels. The aloha shirt and its footwear counterpart have a rich, well-documented history as a staple and signature of Hawai‘i’s own island wardrobe. As such, there is a wide range of quality in the pieces that are available for purchase – from rayon shirts with garishly loud sunsets and palm trees to higher-end, Hawaiian heritage labels such as Tori Richard, Sig Zane and Reyn Spooner. Slippers too: from generic rubber slippers found at the supermarket ($6.99 by the light bulbs) to made-in-Hawai‘i brands like Scott and Island Slipper, which integrate high-grade rubber or leather with cloth or leather straps. If you are ever in downtown Honolulu during lunchtime, you’ll quickly notice the sea of aloha shirts and slacks. Hawaiian wear generally attracts a clientele skewed toward businessmen in their late 20s and early 30s. Brands and retailers are always looking for ways to hook the youth market because they turn into lifelong customers who grow up to be that downtown businessman.
With the rise of “streetwear” (a term I dislike, but use for lack of a better word) over the last 20 years, traditional, even conservative, labels are collaborating with urban brands like Stussy, Supreme, Converse and Vans. These types of projects have helped slippers and aloha shirts to be received as fashion in the continental United States and internationally, and not just novelty items.
Reyn Spooner x Stussy Deluxe
Reyn Spooner x Opening Ceremony
Along with one of the best new build-outs I have ever seen, which transformed Reyn Spooner’s Waikīkī location into a modern retail door, Reyn Spooner has coupled with Opening Ceremony to create specially curated collections. Looking to open the eyes of consumers who might not have taken a second look at the traditional aloha brand, Reyn Spooner’s collection of aloha shirts features vintage florals on brilliant, boldly colored shirts with a decidedly more slim, tailored cut. Reyn Spooner has also partnered with Stussy Deluxe (Stussy’s top-tier sub-label) to create a capsule project consisting of a walkshort, bucket hat and jacket. The all-over print utilizes both Reyn Spooner’s recognizable pattern work and Stussy’s iconic hand-style letterforms. These forays beyond the shores of Hawai‘i are the right, well conceptualized and executed steps that will keep them relevant for decades to come.
KICKS/HI x Stussy
In street fashion, 10 years is almost a lifetime. For KICKS/HI, which opened its doors the day after the 9/11 tragedy, it could have very well been grand opening, grand closing. But as a testament to the shop’s owners and their vision, KICKS/HI is celebrating its 10-year anniversary this year. To commemorate this milestone, the brand has been working with Vans, Huf, Shwood, Hurley, Converse and Stussy (to name a few) on anniversary-specific offerings. Stussy reached out to KICKS/HI to do a capsule with a T-shirt (pictured), cap and postcard illustrated by Amsterdam-based artist Parra of Rockwell clothing. Dudes around the world, rejoice.
Island Slipper’s “Protea”
The beauty of slippers is that they pretty much always fit. Even more beautiful is when you slide your feet into a really well-made slipper – it’s like sipping top-shelf liquor or sleeping in 8,000-thread count, Egyptian cotton bed sheets. Island Slipper has been handcrafting slippers with this luxurious feel for more than 60 years, using the finest high-end leathers and textiles. Their “PT” model, which stands for “Protea,” is the most popular silhouette they offer. With a penchant for heritage brands, Japanese labels Hysteric Glamour, Sophnet, Neighborhood and Nonnative have reached out to Island Slipper to create their own versions of the PT slipper.
Sometimes to think outside the box, you need to look beyond the rock, and in turn, they look to the rock.
This has been a SELECTS article by Chris Kam and Blaise Sato. Chris, also known as DJ Delve, is the creative director for KICKS/HI and one-half of OG promotions company Architechs Hawaii; Blaise makes up the whole and is also the director of operations at Crooks & Castles Hawaii. They make a good pair, don’t they?