Saturday, July 6, 2013

Designs from Paradise - Dale Hope

Designs from Paradise- Part two- Aloha Shirts and Dale Hope

In my June 21st blog I wrote that I have had 3 terrific textile experiences while visiting Honolulu, the first at the offices of Tori Richard Ltd, and now the story of Dale Hope, designer and author.

Hawaiian shirts are everywhere on the islands.  I never gave them too much notice beyond their bright designs and thought of them as essential tourist purchases.  My visit to the studio of Dale Hope some years ago changed that view.

Aloha shirts are found everywhere 
Small child Hawaiian shirt and shorts

They even come in size xxxl
Dale Hope was born in Honolulu and grew up with his parents garment business. When he inherited his family’s clothing industry in 1986 he purchased the well-known Kahala label and became the creative director for Kahala Sportswear.  But it is his passion for the iconic Aloha Shirt that is today’s story.  At his studio and archives I, and a group from the Textile Society of America were shown an array of vintage shirts which Kahala was reintroducing.  The process of selecting appropriate designs and color-ways as well as partnering with well-known printing facilities in Japan indicated the attention to detail that was so important to Hope.  Of course, there were also new lines to design and produce.  Since that visit Hope has made many changes to his career.  He has collaborated with Lucky Brand, a line of casual wear known to many of you (Lucky Brand is owned by Fifth and Pacific).   Kahala Sportswear is now a subsidiary of  Tori Richards Ltd. He has traveled the world with his family searching new designs and he has written the most fascinating history of the Aloha Shirt with Gregory Tozian : The Aloha Shirt: Spirit of the Islands.

Dale Hope

This volume includes everything an enthusiast would want to know about this classic garment: history, designers, textile print-makers, manufacturers, down to buttons and labels. Photographs of garments and designs are stunning and included are many, many paper memorabilia and biographies of early Hawaiian textile designers.

Reading through this volume again on this hot summer day, I can almost hear the surf of the Pacific Ocean (nearly, as I am in a desert).  Or maybe it is this second tropical drink I am enjoying that reminds me of my visits.

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