Archive for the ‘Men’s’ Category

75 years strong: Considering the aloha shirt

November 24th, 2011

Nadine Kam photos

Aloha shirt judges Sig Zane, left, and Amos Kotomori, listen to a discussion of the merits of various designs in an aloha shirt contest that took place Nov. 19 at the Kahala Hotel & Resort.

There’s been much discussion within the pages of our paper recently, regarding President Obama and APEC officials passing on the opportunity to don an aloha shirt for an official photo.

Perhaps, I reasoned, by wearing their dark suits, this was Obama’s way of showing that Hawaii is not just a playground but a serious place to do business. Yet, a few days later, he donned a traditional Balinese shirt for an ASEAN banquet in Indonesia.

Which makes a Nov. 19 aloha shirt contest sponsored by Hawaiian Air, Pomare, and Hana Hou, quite timely. Judging of the contest took place the same day that Obama donned the Indonesian shirt, and as one of five judges, we discussed the way the popularity of the aloha shirt is waning with a younger generation weaned on T-shirts.

The contest was created to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the aloha shirt, to get people to think about their personal connection to the aloha shirt, consider its history and its future. As more of a philosophical and theoretical exercise, the winning shirt won’t actually be produced.

What came across in the more than 100 entries in the inaugural contest, is that there tends to be more aloha for the shirt abroad than at home, where we tend to take the shirt for granted as part of the landscape.

In entry after entry, which came in from Thailand to Dubai, it was amazing to see how the designs reflected such vivid, picturesque and personal reflections of the entrants’ love for Hawaii and experiences here—everything from getting drunk and cherishing the elements of a mai tai, to fearing for the fragile ecosystem and the plight of native birds. Then there was the hyper-personal, with one entrant submitting a repeat pattern of an image of his/her born-in-Hawaii cat, Rusty.

Entries came, not only from graphic and textile artists and illustrators, but from attorneys, beekeepers, teachers, physicians and an unemployed contractor.

It was a tough contest to judge, not only because of the varied entries, but because of the varied backgrounds of the judges. I found myself judging alongside longtime designers and aloha shirt creators Amos Kotomori, Dale Hope, Sig Zane and Carol Yotsuda, executive director of the Garden Island Arts Council, who is also a Living Treasure of Hawaii. The latter two flew in from the Big Island and Kauai, respectively, to participate in the contest.

It was a lengthy process as we whittled the shirts down from 100 to 34, with each judge selecting their top 10. At that point, judging coordinator Chris Pearce and facilitator Jan Nagano hoped that the field would be narrowed to 20, but there was so little overlap among judges that most designs received only one vote, and only one shirt got 4 out of 5 votes.

The front view of the winning design by Vaopele Tiatia. (more…)

Mojo for men

November 9th, 2011

Cassy Song photos courtesy Mojo Barbershop

Guests at Mojo Barbershop’s grand opening enjoyed mustachioed donut from Regal Bakery.

It was all about the mustache, or lack thereof, at the grand opening of Mojo Barbershop on First Friday, Nov. 4. I couldn’t make it that night, but the barbershop shared photos by Cassy Song, which tell the story of the evening, which seems to have brought both men and women out in droves. More photos can be viewed on their Facebook album.

I had interviewed Marian a week prior to the event and after my story appeared in the paper last Thursday, she said their phone began ringing nonstop.

“They have been all men!” she said. “It’s been fascinating to see how thrilled they are after the straight razor shave!  Most of the men that come in have never had one in their life but say they’ve always wanted to try it!”

A couple of calls did come in from women who wanted to purchase gift cards for their husbands, she said.

I knew the old-fashioned barbershop would be popular as part of the old-is-new movement that’s not limited to fashion, but all of what it means to be civilized. As society and business as evolved proves to be untenable and unsustainable, I think everyone is looking back to when businesses were smaller and more intimate and you knew the principals by name, vs. an interchangeable corporate suit. To reinforce the idea of community and relationships, they’re known on Facebook as Mojo Barbershop (& Social Club).

Mojo Barbershop owners Marian Lee and Matt Leo, with artist Kamea Hadar between them. Kamea created the artwork behind them.

And yes, I’m sure men will welcome pampering as much as women. They’ll now have access to the luxurious ritual of sitting back, being treated to a warm towel and straight-razor shave and/or haircut, hand-and-foot detailing or detox facials.

Women are welcome too, but just as men may have been uncomfortable sitting in a salon full of women in the past, be forewarned that this is a space designed with the male species in mind. There is a trunk full of vintage surf and Playboy magazines as reading material, and a man cave where customers can plop into a La-Z-Boy in front of a flat-screen TV. A liquor license may soon materialize.

If you want to delve into this world, Mojo Barbershop is at 1157 Bethel St., open 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Mondays to Saturdays. Call 927-8017.

The Barbershop will be offering a 30 discount on cuts and shaves for all veterans and military service members on Nov. 10, 11 and 12 in honor of Veterans’ Day.

Mojo’s style team, from left, Solosolo Kahili, Jendale Kahuanui, Rodney Ballesteros and Kaliq Rashad.

I think every woman will appreciate, this sentiment, admonishing men to “Stay Handsome, Not Hamajang.” What’s funny is there’s a generation who’d never heard the pidgin “hamajang” before and are getting a kick out of the meaning. Growing up Waipahu we used to use “hamajag” interchangeably, which is more graphic in describing something jagged, messy, unruly or unkempt.

Nadine Kam photos
The Mojo menu.

A vintage suitcase holds vintage reading material.