Updated: September 1, 2021
Hawaii is a beautiful place with a rich history and plenty to offer visitors and residents alike. Though you can find an artist, shop, or company that features Hawaiian-like designs and patterns, they may not be authentic. Instead, seek local Hawaiian clothing brands and designers.
These businesses understand how to capture the island’s beauty and rich history to use for inspiration for their clothing and prints. They know how to blend traditional Hawaiian resort and beachwear with contemporary styles and comfort.
It’s not enough for clothing designers on the mainland to visit Hawaii’s stunning islands once in an attempt to mimic local artistry for their brands back home without understanding the lifestyle or culture of the island.
Authentic local brands and boutiques produce quality items that capture Hawaii’s true beauty, tropical setting, and people. If you plan to visit soon and want to shop in one of the local Hawaiian boutiques for garments, here are some of the best brands to consider.
Hawaiian Island Creations
Hawaiian Island Creations (HIC) got its start in 1971 when brothers Stephen and Jimmy Tsukayama formed the company.
The brothers sold their initial products out of a small surf shop in Kailua, Hawaii. They were all about the surfer lifestyle, and their designs reflected this culture.
During the 1970s, HIC’s founders started to manufacture high-quality surfboards, sailboards, and longboards. By the 1990s, their brand expanded into a thriving retail chain with a respected name in the surfing world.
Today, the retail chain has 17 stores on three islands, including Oahu, Maui, and the Big Island. They not only continue to manufacture and sell surfboards, but they also include authentic surf gear and beachwear in their inventory for people of all ages and sizes.
Their products include:
- Woven Hawaiian tops
- Graphic tees and tank tops for men, women, and kids
- Boardshorts and walkshorts
- Lycra surf tops
- Dresses and rompers
The company accommodates big and tall gentlemen as well. Their “Big Braddah” sizes range between XXL to 5XL in selected tees. They also offer boardshorts starting at a 46-inch waist and more.
HIC specializes in quality beachwear with vibrant colors and designs. They frequently offer many excellent deals on garments and accessories, making this one of Hawaii’s more affordable shops than others.
You can expect everything in this shop to consist of vibrant colors, Hawaiian patterns, and high-quality production. The designers who make Kahala tops successfully integrate prints unique to Hawaii and its residents’ lifestyle.
This family-owned business manufactures most of its line locally, showing its responsibility to the environment. It also ensures that most of the things they sell are authentic and accurately reflect life on the island.
Kahala got its start in 1936 in Honolulu by George Brangier and Nat Norfleet. Their clothing was the first in Honolulu to use factory manufacturing to make and export aloha garments. Currently, Kahala is the oldest Hawaiian apparel company in operation.
By the 1990s and 2000s, Kahala began working with talented local artists on the island. Today, the company collaborates with designers in Hawaii and incorporates innovative designs and fabrics into their collection.
Their current Collector’s Edition features a limited inventory of aloha shirts with vintage heritage prints.
Some of their best-selling menswear designs include the Tropic Vision by John Severson, featuring a stunning array of blues and greens in a floral motif.
The same designer’s Tropic Moon print is another best-seller, with a lovely Hawaiian beach scene in multiple blue hues.
Kahala also has women’s blouses and kid’s tops with bold patterns and vibrant colors.
Newt at the Royal
Newt at the Royal may be well-known for its accessories like its famous Panama hats, but the boutique also has a line of Aloha shirts that are just as, if not more, popular.
The origin story of the aloha shirt begins over 75 years ago, and it’s one of the best garments to capture the casual, carefree beach life in Hawaii.
The shirt’s popularity grew steadily through the 1930s and 1950s. Customers often had them tailor-made, and the colorful, fun design helped grow Hawaii’s garment industry.
Newt at the Royal is a leading label in Hawaii that continues to make the original Aloha shirt. They use exclusive patterns from the garment’s golden age to manufacture top-selling designs.
Newt at the Royal successfully blends traditional patterns with a modern neutral palette so that customers can wear their tops with most pants or shorts without sacrificing style.
Quality is vital when it comes to garments from Newt at the Royal. Workers take pride in creating garments with traditional patterns to complement the modern side of today’s lifestyle.
They work with 100% long-staple cotton, cotton lawn, and bark cloth to make fabrics comfortable enough to wear in tropical climates.
All garments have double-seams to prevent tears, and they wash everything before selling to ensure customers don’t have to worry about shrinkage in the wash.
Newt at the Royal has a brick-and-mortar boutique in Hawaii for local shopping, but anyone can take advantage of their online store for more buying options for all genders and ages.
Besides top-quality retro tops, their online inventory includes boardshorts with designs and floral motifs uniquely Hawaiian.
This local shop also has one-of-a-kind accessories like kimono-style robes and lambskin handbags.
Sizes run from extra small to 2XL in tops and small to extra large in shorts. All items are made locally and consist of quality materials.
A notable aspect of Tori Richard is its commitment to Hawaii. The company fosters a sense of community between its workers, customers, and local talent by cutting and sewing as many garments as possible in Honolulu, Hawaii, the location of its first garment factory.
Apparel manufacturer Mort Feldman created Tori Richard in 1953 along with his wife Janice Moody and local pattern maker Mitsue Aka. When Feldman retired, he moved to Hawaii and founded the company hoping his label could bring sophistication to women’s resort wear.
Throughout the next decade, the company became a top purveyor of women’s resort wear using bold prints to create products with a dramatic and stylish appeal.
By the 1970s, the company added menswear to its inventory. During this time, Tori Richards became known for its one-of-a-kind Tegaki handprint fabric, hand-painted by local artisans in Osaka, Japan.
Today, Tori Richard has multiple brick-and-mortar stores across the state and a thriving online business. It is now an award-winning resort wear retailer with locally-made, high-quality products.
Tori Richard carries a menswear line complete with casual tops, pants, and swimwear. Their tops include everything from long-sleeve and short-sleeve tees to polos. While you can undoubtedly find a colorful shirt of your choice, their pants have more neutral tones like beige and white.
If you plan to hit the beach, Tori Richard has an excellent selection of brightly-colored swim trunks.
You can also find big and tall apparel at Tori Richard. For a shirt, menswear sizes include 4XLT for tall gentlemen and 4XB for larger gentlemen.
Ladies can enjoy many garments from Tori Richard, such as:
- Roomy shorts
- Denim shorts
- Linen pants
- Casual blouses
For ladies, sizes range from extra-extra small to extra large.
Children’s clothing from Tori Richard features many of the same styles and patterns as the adult garments, so you and your child can wear matching apparel while you’re in Hawaii.
Whether you’re a resident of Hawaii or a visitor, you can show your appreciation for the tropical state’s unique appeal and culture by purchasing attire from local shops.
Local Hawaiian apparel features gorgeous designs and motifs unique to Hawaii, from its beautiful beaches to its scenic mountains to its Polynesian cultures.
Tori Richard, Newt at the Royal, Kahala, and HIC are local clothing brands that incorporate Hawaiian cultures and aesthetics into all of their garments. Whether it’s using bright colors, tropical flower designs, or patterns depicting Hawaiian scenery, in some way, each piece is distinctly Hawaiian.
HIC embraces surf culture while Kahala partners with talented creative locals to come up with new designs. Newt at the Royal brings old fashion into more modern times, and Tori Richard seeks to create a sense of community through style.
No matter which local brand you buy from, you can expect many quality products and good deals that will have you saying “Mahalo!”.