Are Hawaiian Dresses Made in Hawaii?

by Scott Murakami December 28, 2013

People often ask if the shirts and dresses we offer are made in Hawaii. And with a few exceptions, yes they are! In fact, you might be surprised to know that the manufacturing process today is not all that different than how it was in the 1930's when the first real Aloha shirts were made in downtown Honolulu. Computer technology has changed the way the designs are made, but the actual manufacturing process is pretty close to what it was back then. 

Any Hawaiian dress, muumuu, shirt, etc starts off with the pattern. Each garment consists of various pieces that must be sewn together. In order to make them efficiently, hundreds of layers of fabric are cut at one time. Each layer of fabric is rolled out onto a cutting table in a process that can take over a day. Then the pattern of each garment component is laid on top of the fabric. And finally the fabric pieces are cut with an electric blade. This is a very critical step because one mistake here could ruin the entire production run which means a loss of thousands of dollars. It pays to have an experienced cutter!

Once all the pieces are cut and bundled up, they are ready to be sewn. Some companies will do this in-house but most outsource the sewing to various contractors. It's easy to find vendors who want to sew shirts. It is much harder to find vendors who want to sew the complex muumuus because they take so much time and effort to do correctly. 

After the dresses or shirts are finished, they are transported in bulk back to the main warehouse and ironed. Some manufactures iron them with steam machines but surprisingly, most of them are ironed with modern industrial hand iron that's not much different than the ones you have at home. And here again, the shirts are easy. They can be ironed by hand in just over 20 seconds per shirt. But the muumuus take much longer. 

Finally, once they are ironed and hung on racks, they are ready to be delivered to our fulfillment center or shipped off to retail stores around Hawaii and the Mainland. It's a surprisingly low tech way to make clothing that has stood the test of time as well as low-cost overseas manufacturing. Check out the video below to see how a modern day Hawaiian dress or Aloha shirt is made right here in Hawaii. 

 




Scott Murakami
Scott Murakami

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