Palaka's got a very special place in the heart of Hawai‘i. It's got the essence of childhood comfort, plumeria lei, and afternoon walks in the valley with grandma woven into its fabric.
The fabric was first imported for plantation workers around the turn of the 20th Century. And from this start, the fabric found itself a part of quintessential Hawai‘i life throughout the century to come.
My Dad, who was born in the early 40's, used to tell me that in his day they didn't wear aloha shirts. When it was time to dress nice for church or for pā‘ina, they wore palaka in the classic navy and white or red and white color. But, soon after, the aloha shirt fabrics found their way onto the backs of the locals and not just the tourists. During World War II, they had trouble importing fabric and local shirt makers were already beginning to create their own tropical floral textiles.
Palaka did have staying power, though, and it transitioned into more casual uses such as the famous Miura Store palaka surf shorts in Hale‘iwa town. It was also a signature look of Hawaiian Music in the days of our Renaissance with artists like Uncle Eddie Kamae always in red palaka.
Becoming a mom and raising children tends to make one nostalgic. And so, palaka it was when it came time to create the Kūlua Keiki line. It is 100% cotton, soft, and durable. My son wore palaka shorts and my daughter wears the same shorts now. I'm sure they will be passed on to friends or cousins soon, and still look good.
Shop the Kūlua Keiki line HERE.