Kids Incorporated

December 4, 2012 | By Natalie Tarce

Aloha wear for the smaller set? Of course!

One of the most visible symbols of Hawai‘i’s aloha spirit can be seen in Hawaiian fashion known as aloha wear.

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. Shirtmaker 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 the workplace.

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 more inspired by the rich history of a multi-cultural society that has made aloha wear a lifestyle.

And that lifestyle isn’t merely for adults. More and more stores around the area now have aloha wear-influenced apparel made for tots and tikes as well. Whether smocked dresses with floral patterns for girls, or aloha shirts with colorful prints for boys, your keiki (child) will fit right in with the local kiddies when dressed in these fun frocks. Wear ‘em with a pair of sandals or slippers and your little ones will be ready for some fun in the island sun. Check out boutiques such as Aloha Aina, Avanti, 88Tees or Angelo for some “small kine” clothing. Better still, your child will also get to wear a piece of paradise when you all return home—at least until that next growth spurt!

Photos: Leah Friel

Sheraton Waikiki
2255 Kalakaua Ave.
[D:7 Waikiki Map]
(808) 931-8906

2164 Kalakaua Ave.
[C:6 Waikiki Map]
(808) 924-3232

2168 Kalakaua Ave.
[C:7 Waikiki Map]
(808) 922-8832

Aloha ‘Aina Boutique
Royal Hawaiian Center
2301 Kalakaua Ave.
[C:8 Waikiki Map]
(808) 924-4333