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Not Your Average Aloha Shirt – Best Places to Shop for Aloha Wear That Won’t Make You Look Like a Tourist

Not Your Average Aloha Shirt – Best Places to Shop for Aloha Wear That Won’t Make You Look Like a Tourist

When you’re traveling to a destination, the last thing that you want to do is to stand out like a sore thumb.  That is, you want to blend in with the crowd and not have your outfit silently scream “tourist”.  And when you’re traveling to Oahu — there is no exception.  

Fortunately for you — in Hawaii — the tourists are everywhere.  The locals, or kamaʻāina, enjoy their fair share of aloha shirts and colorful print muʻumuʻus.  But how can you tell the difference between the locals and the tourists just by glancing at their aloha wear?  

There’s nothing wrong with shopping for your Hawaiian getup at one of the many…many ABC stores.  But if you don’t mind paying a little more for quality stuff — I’m going to let you in on some of Oahu’s best-kept “aloha wear” fashion secrets.

Fighting Eel – Chic and Effortless Aloha Wear

Fighting Eel has plenty of stylish dresses, rompers, and tops to choose from.

Designers Rona Bennett and Lan Chung began their fashion journey with this goal in mind — to design and create pieces that are sexy yet simple and that can easily be dressed up or down with high heels or flip-flops.  If you want to go from day to night in the same outfit and stay breezy and cool in Hawaiian weather, then this is the store for you. 

With plenty of stylish dresses, rompers, and tops to choose from, most Fighting Eel pieces are made with a modal jersey fabric, which means you can easily wash in cold water, hang to dry, and not worry about having to use an iron!  Thereʻs enough of a variety of trendy to minimalist pieces to suit all ages here. If this sounds like you, then you’ll really love this beachy-chic aloha wear.

More recently, Fighting Eel began including matching aloha men’s and children’s wear, which means you can easily coordinate a modern and stylish family photo shoot on the shores of a beautiful Hawaiian beach of your choice.  Women’s tank tops start at $58 and dresses start at $136.  Aloha shirts for men are $98.

You can experience their pieces by ordering from their online shop, but if you are on Oahu there are four retail stores conveniently located on the island.  You’ll find plenty of friendly and helpful staff, and beachy accessories by local designers to complete your outfit.

Fighting Eel store locations

Downtown
1133 Bethel St.
Honolulu, HI 96813
(808) 738-9300

Waikiki
Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center
2201 Kalakaua Ave., Building B
Honolulu, HI 96815
(808) 738-9295

Kailua
629 Kailua Rd. #130
Kailua, HI 96734
(808) 738-9301

Kahala
Kahala Mall
4211 Waialae Ave. G-1
Honolulu, HI 96816
(808) 738-4912

Rix Island Wear – Bold and Relaxed Aloha Shirts

Rix Island Wear advertises itself as “The Bold Look in Hawaiian Wear”.

For those looking to stand out in the crowd with their aloha shirts, Rix Island Wear advertises itself as “The Bold Look in Hawaiian Wear”.  Their patterns lend themselves to not only the Hawaiian spirit but to other authentic Polynesian prints as well.  

Here, men will find a unique but modern contrast in brightly colored prints in classic cut aloha shirts.  They have also expanded into slimmer cuts for men, in addition to boys’ aloha shirts, and they just recently launched a limited collection of women’s wear.

Don’t let their bold looks fool you.  Rix aloha shirts are 100% cotton and made in Hawaii.  Machine washable and with a wide range of sizes available from XS to 6.5XL — this store will appeal to men of all ages and sizes.  Aloha shirts start at $74.99.  There is one store conveniently located at Ala Moana Center.  You can also check them out online or call their customer service line at 1-808-445-9022 for more information.

Store location

Ala Moana Shopping Center
1450 Ala Moana Blvd., Suite 2410
Target Wing, 2nd Floor
Honolulu, HI 96814
(808) 445-9022

Manuhealiʻi – Timeless Aloha Wear for the Entire Ohana

Manuheali'i is known for their classic aloha wear styles and unique vibrant prints. It is one of the most popular and go-to stores that the locals flock to for their aloha gear.

Known for their classic aloha wear styles and unique vibrant prints, Manuhealiʻi is perhaps one of the most popular and go-to stores that the locals flock to for their aloha gear.  This family-owned and operated establishment strives to capture the true essence of the aloha spirit in their clothing.  

Here you will find an array of menʻs aloha shirts, womenʻs dresses, tops, and pants, and childrenʻs wear.  And if you want to coordinate aloha wear with the family, you will be able to find matching pieces for all.  From classic muʻumuʻus to contemporary items such as rompers — you will find something suitable for everyone in your ohana.  Sizes for keiki start at 6 months of age, and even your tūtū will find something tasteful. Manuhealiʻiʻs easy-fitting pieces will suit every body type and fashion sense.  Men’s aloha shirts are $80.  Women’s tops start at $50 and dresses are $80 and up.

Rich in color and with ever-changing collections — you will need to move fast as items sell out quickly.  Manuhealiʻi also has an online store and two locations located on Oahu — both of which have ample free parking for their customers.  Both stand-alone boutiques will make you feel like youʻre shopping in the comfort of your own home.

Manuheali’i store locations

Honolulu
930 Punahou St.
Honolulu, HI 96826
(808) 942-9869

Kailua
5 Hoʻolaʻi St.
Kailua, HI 96734
(808) 261-9865

Roberta Oaks – Hip and Modern Aloha Shirts

Roberta Oaks’ lifestyle boutique is inspired by her love of the retro lifestyle.

Hailing from Missouri, designer Roberta Oaks’ lifestyle boutique is inspired by her love of the retro lifestyle.  Although the essence of her shop and aloha wear gives off a vintage Hawaiian vibe — the cuts and silhouettes of her wearable pieces are anything but.  For those looking for an aloha print that is subtly vintage, but is modern in fit and hip in style — then Roberta Oaks’ aloha shirts are for you.

Roberta Oaks’ aloha shirts speak to men who prefer a modern, slimmer cut.  Because they are more tailored than the standard fit, she recommends going up one or two sizes if you prefer a loose and relaxed aloha shirt — otherwise, they are true to size.  The aloha shirts can be worn with an optional rolled up cuff on the sleeves, and many of the lovely prints are designed by Roberta Oaks herself.  You will even find one of a kind buttons on the shirts made with real coconut!

Perfect for a paʻu hana with friends at SALT in Kakaʻako, or for downing a pint at a trendy restaurant and bar in Chinatown, aloha shirt sizes range from XS to XXL and are hand-printed, cut, and sewn in Honolulu.  Fabrics are mainly cotton and cotton blends, which means they are machine washable.  Roberta Oaks also has matching aloha wear available for the ohana.  Men’s and women’s aloha shirts are $120.  At this boutique, you will find fun gift ideas with aloha style accessories such as ties, bowties, patches, bags, and even something for your pets. The boutique is located in Chinatown and an online store is available for your convenience.  

Roberta Oaks store location

Chinatown
19 N. Pauahi St.
Honolulu, 96817
(808) 526-1111

Tori Richard – Resort Style Aloha Wear

Tori Richard has the longest history out of all of the aloha wear establishments on Oahu.

Out of all of the aloha wear establishments listed here, Tori Richard has the longest history.  Dating back to the 1950s, Tori Richard began designing exclusively for women but over the next couple of decades realized that their men’s resort-style aloha shirts were increasingly becoming popular with their customers.  Today, it is far from unusual to spot many professionals on the streets of Honolulu wearing Tori Richard as their business attire — tucked or untucked.   

High-quality fabrics and details such as cotton lawn, linen blends, embroideries, and jacquard make up much of their pieces.  For men who prefer a European or slimmer cut with a bit of stretch to their aloha shirts, Tori Richard also makes this available for many of their prints. For women, many of their classy tops, skirts, and dresses are made with a slightly stretchy modal and spandex jersey blend which makes them a popular choice due to their comfort and easy level of care. 

Although not sold exclusively on Oahu, the unique prints with a Japanese influence have made Tori Richard an international name.  But if you find yourself in Hawaii, and you are in dire need of an outfit to wear to a Kahala Resort beach wedding, a hotel conference at the Royal Hawaiian, or a cocktail party out on the lānai of the Halekulani — Tori Richard is a great one-stop-shop.  Men’s aloha shirts start at $98 and women’s dresses start at $128.

And just one more thing, if you need to be convinced about what a wonderful establishment this is — when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) formally announced that the public should wear face masks to prevent the spread of Covid-19, Tori Richard manufactured over 30,000 reusable fabric face masks to be given free to the public living on the Hawaiian islands all for the price of one postage stamp to cover the cost of delivery.  How’s that for giving back to the community?  If you are on Oahu, Tori Richard stores can be found in 4 locations, most of which are conveniently situated in Waikiki.  It can also be accessed online and found in limited selections in department stores across Oahu such as Macy’s, Nordstrom, and Saks Fifth Avenue.

Tory Richard store locations

Ala Moana Shopping Center
1450 Ala Moana Blvd.
Diamond Head Wing
Honolulu, HI 96814
(808) 949-5858

Royal Hawaiian
2259 Kalakaua Ave. Shop No. 3
Honolulu, HI 96815
(808) 921-2702

Hilton Hawaiian Village
2005 Kalia Road
Honolulu, HI 96815
(808) 943-9472

Outrigger Waikiki on the Beach
2335 Kalakaua Ave.
Honolulu, HI 96815
(808) 924-1811

You just can’t argue with quality, locally-designed and locally-made aloha wear.  If you want aloha wear that you can don time and time again on your annual trips to Hawaii, or make a statement at the next Hawaiian-themed party — then the selections above are your best bets.  Take it from a kamaʻāina…we know what we are talking about!

Glossary:

Aloha shirt – a collared, short-sleeve, button-down shirt originating in Hawaii.  Usually cut with printed fabric and can be tucked in or worn out.

Kamaʻāina – refers to a Hawaii resident regardless of ethnic background.

Keiki – the Hawaiian word for children

Lānai – a patio, balcony, or open-sided living area

Muʻumuʻu – a loose dress of Hawaiian origin often decorated with brightly colored patterns

Ohana – the Hawaiian word for family

Paʻu hana – Hawaiian for “finished work” or more popularly known as happy hour.

Tūtū – the informal Hawaiian term for grandparents

One thought on “Not Your Average Aloha Shirt – Best Places to Shop for Aloha Wear That Won’t Make You Look Like a Tourist

  1. This was a really informative and interesting article, packed with excellent recommendations on where to find more chic looking aloha wear. I for one would definitely seek out a few of these retail establishments to purchase comfortable yet fashionable island wear. Way to go Crystal and thanks for sharing your knowledge!

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