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My Story

After the war my father stayed in Hawaii and started selling fabric to the growing community of clothing manufacturers. In 1953 my Mom and Dad bought a small garment factory, the same year I was born. We lived in a small cottage in Waikiki a few blocks from the beach. My Dad wore great bold-printed shirts everyday and he special ordered a batch of them for me every year once I was in school. 

We would all go to work together as they started their company and I made forts with boxes in the shipping room. By the time I was a teenager, I’d be breaking down fabric cartons from Japan, carrying many thousands of yards of fabric in a day on my shoulders to our second story cutting room. When I was about to continue on to college in the early 1970’s, my Dad asked me to come and work for him, as he needed help with sales. He was selling ladies, missy resort wear with polyester, pongee and acrylic fabrications. It was difficult for me to relate to his customers.  I was not convinced His customers, the predominately blue-ish haired resort ladies needed these garments

 

Next to my father's delivery van in his first shop in Kapahulu

Asked him if we could make men’s shirts, Having worn Dave Rochlen’s, Surfline Hawaii shirts since the 8th grade, I really cherished those, and had more of a feel for that direction,  so we started small and in 10 years we were a respectable Men’s brand under the HRH label.

We also became the Local Motion licensee to make their aloha shirts and board shorts in the late 1970’s.

Local Motion board shorts in the late 1970's

We did this for about a year and then started our own brand, Hawaiian Style. Our emphasis was on locally relevant Lifestyle images, with Surfing, Locations and Fish themes. Nicky Black, a childhood surfing and paddling friend, was our main artist and he created a recognizable look that became very popular.

Hawaiian Style photo shoot by Jeff Hornbaker

I lived in a shack in Kahala that was close to the beach. When I left for work in the morning in my VW Bus, I would see young kids on their stingray bikes off to Kahala School wearing our t-shirts. Passing through Kalihi, close to our warehouse, I’d see Grandpa’s pushing young children in strollers wearing our t-shirts, And on the way home, going around Diamond Head, I’d pass attractive Gals jogging, with their sleeves rolled up wearing the same shirts. We had created a very special Brand that had hit a nerve with a large audience.

First Factory 1540 B Makaloa Street that I took over from my Dad in the Mid 70's

Our Factory in the 1980's in Kalihi HRH Days

In 1987 we acquired the name Kahala, and changed the name of our shirt company from HRH to Kahala by HRH. Many of our buyers did not want us to change our name, as HRH was one of their top vendors. That year we were awarded the first, Fashion Industry Governor’s Cup, The Hawaii Manufacturer of the Year award.

One of our first prints in the new Kahala by HRH collection

Kahala by HRH

Paddler-Surfer Keahi Farden Robins in Kahala by HRH first series of prints

Winning the Governor's Cup 1987, with Governor John Waihee

We also created a line called Canoes that was a vintage inspired line of original Hawaiian shirts. After getting it up and running, Canoe (pronounced Ka-noe) the perfume company shut us down claiming copyright infringement with the name. 

Canoes photo shoot at San Sousi Beach.

Canoes photo shoot

Mark Sandvold taking a drop for a Canoes photo shoot

In the early 1990’s we sold our company to Local Motion and I was asked to stay on as the art director for Kahala. On a sales and inspiration trip, in my new position visiting the Big Island, we saw some block prints in a Hilo art gallery, thought the art was amazing and ideal for shirts. Contacted the artist, Avi Kiriaty,  originally from Israel, who lived in upper Puna, and asked if he would consider working on textile designs with us. We started working together and went on to sell over 150 Avi designs. Once while doing a promotion at Nordstrom in South Coast Plaza we sold 140 of Avi's Kahala shirts during a instore event.

Collaboration with Avi Kiriaty

First Hawaiian’s Bank merger with California BancWest is celebrated by their respective executives wearing Avi Kahala Aloha Shirts in 1998.

With our successful collaboration with Avi we branched out to other artists being able to offer even more diverse collections. After having his phone number for 6 years, I called John Severson, creator of Surfer Magazine, many early surf films,  and a childhood hero, and asked if he would consider creating art for our shirts.

Artist John Severson

John Severson label

John Severson

He said that 6 months earlier he had seen a special on the artist Avi, on TV, and had been preparing to hopefully meet us one day. We worked with John, his talented wife Louise and artistic daughter Anna.   Together they outdid themselves, creating diverse patterns for us with genuine surf stoked themes.

A few years later, While at the McKinley Car Wash, I stood behind a tastefully dressed lady who was signing her gas receipt in front of me. It realized she was Yvonne Cheng, a local fine artist who’s work I had admired for years, while outside, waiting for our cars; I said hello and let Her know how much I appreciated her art. After quite a few meetings, Yvonne was hand-painting art for us, dressing many of Honolulu’s top CEO’s and Executives, who adored Her, and Her Art on shirts.

Walter Dods Chairman and CEO of First Hawaiian Bank wearing His Yvonne Cheng Aloha Shirt

We worked with great textile converters here in Honolulu, G. Von Hamm and Ohana Fabrics who introduced us to the Textile world in Japan. There we worked with the finest textile companies in Japan, Marubeni, Kurabo and C. Ito, who enabled us to source the best quality fabrications, printing and additional sources for textile art.

My Dad once told me, “you really are in the business of selling art.”  He was right, great art on shirts sold well.

To tell our story we worked with some great photographers over the years. For ads, brochures, lookbooks and tradeshow booths we worked with Darrell Wong, Jeff Hornbaker, Linny Morris Cunningham, Horst Stanzy, Dana Edmunds, John Russell, Mike Wagner and JOSS. 

We were inspired by 2 companies of that era, Esprit and a non-fashion company, Patagonia. Still have one of Patagonia’s original quarter page ads, where the copy read, “Uncommon clothes For Spirited People.” These mainland companies definitely showed us what was being done creatively away from our shores.

Renaissance Man, Big Wave Canoe Surf Pioneer,  Author of the definitive book on Outrigger Canoes, Tommy Holmes, asked me one day to help him define what should be included in a book on Aloha Shirts that he was ready to embark on. I gave him a long list of the who’s who in the industry, all the companies he would want to talk to. When he got my list he said, “this is will be a project we will do together – will be by Hope and Holmes.” 

With Tommy Holmes

Very unfortunately he passed away and left me with this project. After fumbling for years with the concept of doing the book and working,  I took a sabbatical from Kahala and spent a year and a half,  full time on the book. Interviewed hundreds of old timer’s related to the industry. Flew to Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Laguna to see extensive collections of incredible shirts and interviewed individual’s like legendary Alfred Shaheen. Spent days with these collections, looking for shirts that had never been published, that were unfamiliar to our reader’s. In 2000 the book was completed and published. It was been printed for the US, as well as England, Germany and has been printed in Japan twice. 

The Aloha Shirt: Spirit of The Islands published in 2000

The Aloha Shirt: Spirit of The Islands published in 2000

The Aloha Shirt Japanese print edition, published in 2013

Shortly after the book came out, We contacted the US postal Service and the Postmaster General and suggested the concept of Aloha Shirts on stamps. We encouraged over a thousand people to write letters to the USPS supporting this concept. After 15 years it finally happened in 2012,  with the help of our Governor, Neil Abercrombie.

Governor Neil Abercrombie with the US Postal Service commemorative Aloha Shirt stamps.

David “Pua” Rochlen of Surf Line Hawaii/Jams World was the winner of the Lifetime Achievement Award at the reinstated Governors Fashion Awards ceremony that took place Oct. 30 at The MODERN Honolulu. Longtime fashion veteran Dale Hope, in a vintage 1965 Sandwich Isles tapa-print jacket presented the award with Gov. Neil Abercrombie.  Nadine Kam photos

In 2002, I took a job with Patagonia to over see the Pataloha division that had been created by our Hawaiian Ambassador of Aloha, Rell Sunn. We worked on technical shirts for paddling with hints of prints and aloha shirts that had both Hawaii and Mountain and fly fish themes.

Collaboration with Patagonia. Thibert Luisa drops in at Kukio.

Cover shot of Mike Field and his sailing canoe off the Big Island.

Today I mostly work with friends and have recently worked on Collaborations with Patagonia, Quiksilver, Lucky Brand, Beams in Japan, Birdwell and Muu Muu Heaven in Kailua.

Hope For Man Collection

Aloha Aku Aloha Mai


I’ve spent my career seeking out interesting stories and extremely talented artists with the hope that our work will find it’s way into people’s hearts and touch them on an emotional level
— Dale Hope

Life in Hawaii

Dale Hope lives in Honolulu Hawaii with his wife and daughter. He is involved in many garment related projects and appreciates time at the beach and sharing his love for the Ocean with his daughter.

TRIP TO MICRONESIA

In the summer of 2012, Dale and his daughter were hosted to a tremendous visit to the Caroline Islands, Micronesia. They spent their time looking for unique designs to build up his next collection of textile prints, and of course fishing and diving and enjoying the unique Island lifestyle.


EMAIL DALE

Email: dale (AT) thealohashirt.com


Additional Media and Features

HI Luxury Magazine (Apr 2015) - Link

Huffington Post (Dec 2014) - Link

Honolulu Magazine (Oct 2014) - Link

Wall Street Journal (Apr 2014) - Link

Beams (Jul 2013) - Link

Honolulu Magazine (Jul 2012) - Link

Star Bulletin (Jun 2008) - Link

Feature in Hawaiian Airlines' Hana Hou Magazine