Sunday, Dec. 10, 2023 |
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Photo courtesy of Lani Watters/HITimaging Models pose on the runway while modeling local garments in the Aloha Shirt Festival last year.
The second annual Aloha Shirt Festival and Fashion Week Hawaii will be in full swing in Kailua-Kona beginning Friday.
The festival celebrates the iconic aloha shirt and how the Hawaiian culture has influenced the contemporary fashion industry.
Aloha shirts remain a staple in local life and in the tourism industry. Casual is the norm for many Hawaii residents who wear aloha shirts and other aloha attire to any occasion.
The festival aims to help to sustain Hawaii’s unique wearable arts and provide opportunities for local artisans, businesses and youth, according to organizer Chelle Pahinui.
“The Aloha Shirt Festival is a venture in hospitality bringing together both traditional and contemporary wearable arts to share a moment in time celebrating Hawaii’s contributions to the fashion industry,” Pahinui said. “Aloha shirts are an authentic way to share the local culture without concerns like cultural appropriation. Aloha shirts are inclusive garments that locals and tourists can both enjoy.”
The event will feature some of Hawaii’s top designers, such as Micah Kamohoali’i, Kanoelani Davis, Shannon Kealani H., Isaiah Price and several more who will showcase aloha wear, exhibits and sales.
Contemporary designers, vintage collections and repurposed clothing collections will be featured in fashion runway shows and at the pop-up booths.
Traditional wearable arts workshops will be presented, along with a variety of speakers, live entertainment and hair and make up shows.
“The era-themed fashion week event reclaims and celebrates the aloha shirt and island style clothing identity,” Pahinui said. “Our goals are to bring together as many wearable arts practitioners, collectors, designers, producers and brands for a gathering that supports both cultural preservation, economic value and next-generation mentorship.”
The original concept and development of the event was inspired by Hilo’s own uncle George Na’ope and Pahinui’s late husband, musician Cyril Pahinui, as a way to celebrate Hawaii’s wearable arts and the local garment industry.
“Uncle told us about the idea to have an event that celebrated the wearable arts, and he called it the Aloha Shirt Festival,” Pahinui said. “He told us that Hawaiians were akamai because they don’t just renew, reuse, recycle, they took it to the next level to collect.”
This year, attendees should don their oldest, most colorful aloha fashion to embrace the culture while also competing for prizes.
Organizers hope to continue growing the event every year and invite residents and visitors alike to celebrate the cherished tradition of the aloha shirt.
“The festival is a perfect example of restorative tourism. It’s an example of how visitors can add benefits instead of taking away or using up our resources,” Pahinui said. “It’s an activity that can grow and is located in a perfect spot for growth without so much negative impact, and it’s a place to learn more about the culture.”
The second annual Aloha Shirt Festival Vintage Era Exhibit and Fashion Week Hawaii, presented by Naalehu Theatre, will be from 12 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Friday and Saturday at the Outrigger Kona Resort and Spa.
The vintage exhibits and pop-up marketplace are free, while the runway show tickets range from $50 to $200. More information can be found at alohashirtfestival.com.
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