Sunday, April 1, 2012

Malia of Honolulu



The "Malia" label from Honolulu was a cut above many other tropical fashions during its heyday. Begun in Hawaii around 1961, the company was owned by William and Mary Foster who met while at Stanford University. Bill started working with textile design, and later added the fashion lines to diversify his business.  "Malia" textile patterns were key to the company's success, since they had a unique point of view, presenting a more modern trend conscious fashion that made the transition from resort to state-side easily.



This cotton sateen dress from the 1960's shows how the "Malia" style was very contemporary and young, with a more sophisticated look than traditional resort wear had at the time.  Rather than re-styled palm frond designs that originated in the 1930's, they explored bright graphics and prints. The company also produced fashion that was very well made and was worth the extra cost to their customer.  Manufacturing on the island was not cost effective, so the retail prices were high.  But the unique styles and high quality put them in demand.  Much of the company's success was based on their focus to create a dress that the customer could wear long after her trip to Hawaii was over.


In 1984, the company had 200 employees, but was still owned by the Fosters whose business was based in a converted bowling alley.  Today the name carries uniforms only, having left fashion and textiles behind.  We still have the wonderful dresses they produced during the 1960's and 1970's as the best years for this label.

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