On the Scene with aloha shirt connoisseur Dale Hope
“Vintage Lines,” an exhibition of aloha shirts from Dale Hope’s personal collection, is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily through Sept. 30 in the IBM Building, 1240 Ala Moana Blvd.
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Dale Hope was born in 1953, the year his parents bought a Honolulu garment factory. He spent much of his teens working in the family business, and when he finished high school his father offered him a full-time job. Hope soon suggested they start making men’s shirts as well as resortwear for women, and the HRH label was born. From there Hope and his father became the licensee for Local Motion and then introduced their own brand, Hawaiian Style.
After Hope and his father sold their company in the early 1990s, Hope was asked to stay on as art director. He visualized the concept of “art on shirts,” and a series of successful collaborations with imaginative artists followed.
Hope documented a piece of fashion history in “The Aloha Shirt,” a 224-page book published in 2000; the expanded second edition, 384 pages, was published in 2016. (Visit patagonia.com.)
“Vintage Lines,” an exhibition of aloha shirts from Hope’s personal collection, is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily through Sept. 30 in the IBM Building, 1240 Ala Moana Blvd. Hope will moderate a panel discussion with Sig Zane, Amos Kotomori and representatives of Kealopiko alohawear, Jams World and Kahala aloha shirts at 6 p.m. Sept. 12 at the IBM Building Courtyard.
How did the “Vintage Lines” exhibit come to be?
(Surf photographer) Zak Noyle suggested to Katrina Beattie here at Howard Hughes (Corp., developer of Ward Village) that I could coordinate an exhibit with aloha shirts for them. It’s a combination of vintage shirts that start in the ’20s all the way up through the different decades, with some actual textile art with the shirts that are companions throughout the exhibit.
How big is your aloha shirt collection?
I have more than 1,000.
From one collector to another: How do you store them to keep them safe?
I have them folded in boxes that are pretty locked tight and then I have silicone packets in every box. I rotate the silicone packets every year or so
What was most rewarding for you in doing the second edition of the book?
We found some of the people we’d been looking for (for the first edition) and got their story and their details — which is pretty miraculous, because that goes all the way back to 1935. To find those people still alive, and still with their memory, able to share that with me, was pretty amazing.
You’re wearing a long-sleeve aloha shirt, but they don’t seem to be easy to find. Why is that?
To me, it’s our way of being a little bit more dignified here in Honolulu, but it’s hard to get retailers to jump on board. Retailers know for sure they’re going to sell the short sleeves, but they may have somebody who doesn’t want the extra (length) sleeve.
“Vintage Lines” closes at the end of September. What’s next?
Finishing a book on the pareu. The Polynesian/Tahitian pareu has always fascinated me. I love those prints. I’ve been to Tahiti many times and nobody I talked with knew the origin of the pareu. After 20 years (of research), and thousands of letters around the world, we’ve found out what the origin is. It’s probably going to be a bigger book than the aloha shirt book.
Do you have a long-term project in mind?
To perpetuate the aloha shirt story and have a museum here in Hawaii where we can showcase probably one of the greatest ambassadors of our state — the aloha shirt.