20 June 2024

Kānaka, Local, Malihini

FDM prof speaks at Fashioning Aloha exhibition

Kānaka, Local, Malihini

As model (and incoming UH student) Makana Gomes sported various types of shirts, Andy Reilly educated the audience at the Honolulu Museum of Art. His June 8 gallery talk on on the relation between aloha shirts and personal identity, “Kānaka, Local, Malihini,” was as a guest speaker at the 2024 Fashioning Aloha exhibition. 

Previously, says the professor in the Fashion Design and Merchandising program, Dept. of Family and Consumer Sciences, “I had interviewed Hawaiian, local, and haole men about aesthetic preferences of aloha shirts and how they relate to identity,” Andy says. “I found that, while Hawaiian and local men select shirts that are not what tourists wear and prefer muted colors and prints that reflect the Hawaiian Islands accurately, haole men go through a learning process when they move to Hawaiʻi and transition from the loudly-colored, tourist-oriented shirts, to shirts more reflective of the islands.”

He adds, “I conclude that various types of shirts are used to display respect for Hawaiʻi as haoles transition from tourist to resident.”

Andy’s presentation will be included as a chapter in the upcoming book, Fashion in American Life: Agency, Identity and the Everyday, which is slated for publishing in October.

“I enjoyed this project very much,” Andy says. “It was something I long suspected, but when the editors of the book asked me to write a chapter for their book, I knew it was time to research it.  I think it shows how clothing is an educational tool and can be used to educate people on important social and historical topics."

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