Kiholo Kai's Hawai‘i-made aloha shirts will have you looking your best this summer.
The tropical oxford in traditional fit
A motto like “Fine Hawaiian Tailoring” certainly speaks volumes—and for brand director Kirk Hubbard, it’s a promise. His Kiholo Kai (kiholokai.com) brand—which comes from Kiholo Bay on Hawai‘i Island and kai, the Hawaiian word for ocean—is made fully in Hawai‘i. After spending years working for other brands such as Reyn Spooner, Hubbard launched Kiholo Kai in 2017 as his answer to the aloha shirt. “The aloha shirt was always a part of my life,” he says. “In the earlier days, I wore them as a child during summers, surf versions as a teenager and watched my father wear the classic downtown reverse prints. My first job out of college was working with a prestigious firm that was located right across the street from the current Kiholo Kai store in the heart of downtown Honolulu. It was at that time I really started to appreciate aloha shirts as I wore them for work and began to develop a real affinity for the different types.”
The downtown Honolulu Kiholo Kai store
Only the finest Japanese fabrics are used, upon which Hubbard bestows custom and collaborative prints. The shirts are then tailored in Hawai‘i. “We go back to the basics of a fine aloha shirt, using a vintage formula that is getting lost today: high-quality single-needle tailoring done here in Hawai‘i, the finest-quality cotton-based fabrications, classic print stories from our island lifestyle that’s wearable internationally and a subtleness in style,” he says. Personally, he’s partial to the signature print. Dubbed Canoe Plants, it’s a “traditional block story featuring our favorite canoe crops brought over by the ancient voyagers.”
You can of course buy the shirts online, but to get the full experience, visit the downtown Honolulu outpost that opened in 2019. Hubbard says, “It’s a step back in time where we try to provide a premium customer experience beyond just shopping. We are in a historical building in the heart of downtown, and we have decorated our store in a vintage but updated manner to celebrate the romantic history of Hawai‘i and downtown.” Shop the two current collections: Tailored, which is a slimmer fit, and Traditional, which is looser. And be on the lookout this year for a new summer collection in which Hubbard will also introduce a new category of apparel.
Kiholo Kai draws on classic print stories.
Photography by: By T. Kashiwa