What’s Behind What We Wear

Fashion and Design professor shares insights into clothing

  • 17 October 2019
  • Author: Frederika Bain
  • Number of views: 967
What’s Behind What We Wear

Local and national journalists know FDM professor Andy Reilly is the one to consult about sartorial choices and Hawai‘i fashion history. He’s been interviewed for and quoted in several news stories recently, such as in Hawaii News Now’s “When You Think of Hawaii, It's Hard Not to Think About Aloha Shirts” and “From Aloha Shirts to Slippahs, Hawaii Is Finally Getting Notice as a ‘Fashion Mecca.’” He explains the history of the aloha shirt, from its origins as a palaka shirt on the plantation through the decades when it was denigrated as a tacky fashion choice (there were even ordinances in Hawai‘i that forbade it to be worn anywhere but in Waikiki, he says!) to the present day, when it is finally starting to take its place as an article of clothing that can be elegant and fashion forward on a national or international stage.

Andy’s insights into the rubber slipper are just as interesting—he explains that, like many other clothing choices in the Islands, it stems from the immigrants who came here and the styles of dress they brought with them. Traditional Japanese straw zori weren’t available here during World War II, so Japanese workers created their own versions from materials they could get, such as old tires and rope.

Andy Reilly (pictured here appropriately wearing an aloha shirt under his jacket) also offered insightful ideas to the Huffington Post for the article “What to Wear When You’re in a Funk.” He explains that when we’re feeling down, we can deliberately try to choose clothing that will elevate our mood and thus  “influence how you’re going to behave, what you feel.” It’s like choosing music to listen to according to your mood, he says. Of course, such clothing choices have to reflect your own personal comfort level, he cautions—you can’t put on something just because you think it should work if you’re personally uncomfortable with it, like tight-fitting clothing that may be fashionable but isn’t your personal style.


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