Tag: Aloha Shirts

About Those Souvenirs: Made in Hawaii?

About Those Souvenirs: Made in Hawaii? Picture from magical-world via Flickr (Creative Commons)
Picture from magical-world via Flickr (Creative Commons)

I find souvenir shopping tricky. I like things that really scream of place or are packed with a trip’s significance—no pressure, souvenir makers! I was eager to buy a Hawaiian-made uke on my last trip, though the one I ended up getting is more global than I’d have ideally liked—the parts are made in Indonesia and shipped to Oahu for assembly. Is it made in Hawaii? Sort of.

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Hilo Hattie, Don’t Leave Me!

Hilo Hattie, Don’t Leave Me! Photo by lrargerich via Flickr (Creative Commons)
Photo by lrargerich via Flickr (Creative Commons)

I confess: I love Hilo Hattie’s, the kitsch-tastic chain of retail stores where you can buy matching aloha wear for your entire family, hula girl lamps and beaded curtains, nightlights that have the word “Aloha” etched into their cowrie shell shades, coffee cups with your “Hawaiian” name on them, 73 different varieties of macadamia nut treat, straw hats, sun screen, flip-flops, tank tops ... oh, it goes on and on.

Most of the stuff they sell isn’t made in Hawaii; the shirts are from China, the mango candy from Thailand, even the shell leis they drop around your neck as you walk in the door are probably from some place other than Hawaii but never mind, never mind. I take the coupons from the airport brochures, I get on the shuttle bus and off I go to buy more ridiculous Aloha-themed junque. Don’t judge me. I openly admit I have a problem.

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Gov. to Hawaii: Tear Down This Clothesline

Gov. to Hawaii: Tear Down This Clothesline Photo by s2art via Flickr (Creative Commons).

From the Pacific Business News:

A similar bill, jokingly referred to as the “right to dry bill” passed the Legislature in 2008 but was vetoed by Gov. Linda Lingle.

House Bill 1273, introduced by several environmentally conscientious House representatives, includes language that says a residential board may implement “reasonable restrictions with regard to the placement of the clothesline so long as the restrictions do not prohibit clotheslines altogether.”

Ah, the politics of a tourism-driven economy. I’m going to stick my neck out and guess that the reason the gov vetoed the bill was hefty lobbying about aesthetics from resort developers and tourism boosters. “All that underwear is going to wreck our view!”

Confession: I’ve shot photos in any number of European towns of laundry drying on the line. The Italians seem to do a nice job making laundry aesthetic. I’d be hard pressed not to be giddy at the sight of a line full of Aloha shirts flapping in the Hawaiian breeze.

Wandering Through ‘Hawaii: Holoholo Wale’

Hawaii, surfboards Photo by Pam Mandel.
Photo by Pam Mandel

Confession. I was not all that interested in Hawaii at first. Too touristy, a cliche, whatever. Maybe it was the Elvis movies or the Brady Bunch in Hawaii episodes or the glitzy ad campaigns that showed swimming pools that looked like mini-golf courses. A significant birthday brought me there, my mom’s dash-zero year meant a family gathering, a holiday home, a minivan.

At the time, I was living a divided life between two places, a small town in Austria and Seattle, Washington. In order to get to Hawaii for this January birthday, my mate and I boarded a flight in wintery Vienna. Two days later—after a one-night stop in my Seattle apartment to repack—we stepped out of the plane on to the tarmac at the Kona airport and I fell in love.

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R.I.P. Alfred Shaheen, Aloha Shirt Revolutionary

He’s credited with advances in manufacturing aloha shirts and raising “the garments to the level of high fashion with artistic prints, high-grade materials and quality construction.” He also designed the shirt Elvis wore on the cover of the “Blue Hawaii” soundtrack. Shaheen was 86.

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