VIDEO: Kealopiko bridges the upland and ocean in a uniquely Hawaiian way

March 30, 2010, 11:11 AM HST · Updated January 5, 9:31 AM
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By Wendy Osher

Using native flora and fauna as a source of inspiration a trio of Hawaiian women are designing clothing in a uniquely Hawaiian way.

“When we first started, we really wanted to do something that could showcase the things that we feel are truly Hawaiian,” said Hina Kneubuhl of Kealopiko.

In addition to nature, the designs of Kealopiko utilize images of ali’i (chiefs) and ‘olelo Hawaii (the Hawaiian language).

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“We had been seeing our whole lives growing up all of these other things on shirts…things that are tropical and beautiful, but not necessarily unique to Hawaii,” said Kneubhl.  So the company chose, “the stuff that we felt was really a part of who we are as Hawaiians and our environment, our kupuna, our mo’okuauhau,” said Kneubhl.

One particular line of shirts is dedicated to the pairings discussed in the Kumuliopo Hawaiian creation chant.

Kealopiko. Photo by Wendy Osher.

“There’s always something in the kai that’s guarded by something in the uka or land,” said Kneubhl.

The line includes a design featuring the weke fish and the wauke plant, with the phrase, “I wehi no ku’u kino,” meaning “an adornment for my body.”

Kneubhl explains the mana’o behind the design saying that much like the wauke was pounded to make kapa clothing to adorn people, the scales on the weke fish are like an adornment for their body as well.

Kneubhl, who is a botanist by profession said, “I’ve been working in conservation since I was young… so we kind of wanted to include both the uka and the kai to represent that, and all the beautiful things in between.”

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