These Thoughtful Threads are Changing the World of Golf
Aloha is a multifaceted word. It can be used as a greeting, to say “hello, welcome,” but can also be used as a form of farewell. It can be used as an expression of love and affection, but more than that aloha is considered to be a way of life. One lifestyle brand is now venturing to bring this embodiment of Hawaiian culture to the world in the form of carefully crafted tees, hats, and golf apparel.
Bringing gifts from afar for family and friends is generally considered a kind gesture, but unlike the standard souvenir, the idea is to choose items that can’t be found in the recipient’s region. Buying a box of nuts for your friend in Iowa is a sweet gesture, but is short-lived. Nuts, chocolate, and other food items have a limited lifespan and can’t be enjoyed months or even years later. Gifting a brightly colored floral print tee or hat that’s locally produced in Honolulu is, “…a talking point. It’s a conversation for many years to come,” Tim Hazelgrove, founder of Oahu Golf Apparel (OGA) stated. “I always feel like we’re the only authentic golf brand using floral patterns. There are other brands that are very similar to us out there, but they do not do it custom.”
Custom Apparel the OGA Way
The magic that turns cotton balls into rolls of fabric is quite complex but can result in a homogeneous design or a gross misrepresentation of nature. One plant prone to such misrepresentation is Monstera Deliciosa. This species of tropical vine is easily recognized for the iconic oval holes and splits in the foliage, called fenestrations. Going by many names such as the Swiss Cheese Plant, Hurricane Plant, and Mexican Breadfruit, these gorgeous plants are native to Hawaii and Central America and prone to misclassification as “palm leaves,”, especially in clothing labels.
“What they do is they go to a fabric store, buy a big roll of fabric, and cut up a shirt…there’s nothing authentic about it. So what separates us from them is we design every pattern that we make. In our designs we have our logos in our patterns hidden,” Mr. Hazelgrove further explained why OGA strives to represent nature accurately in their designs. “A monstera leaf is not even in the palm family and yet they’re using monstera images and calling it palm trees and totally misleading the public.”
Frequently fashion and lifestyle brands will commodify cultural elements to make items seem more high-end or exclusive. Feeling that a lot of brands misrepresent nature, Mr. Hazelgrove goes through great pains to ensure original and accurate designs inspired by the Hawaiian landscape are used. “I’ll see a hibiscus pattern and I’ll make a hibiscus pattern out of my own style and incorporate our logos and stuff like that.”
While these cheerfully colored shirts may remind one of the aloha shirts found in Waikiki, there is a distinct difference in quality and style. Using high-quality materials with a focus on functionality, all shirts have an SPF of 75 or higher and wicks sweat away without drenching the material, leaving the wearer dry and comfortable.
Harnessing the Power of Fashion
Fashion has the ability to either unite or divide communities. The iconography fashion creates within some communities can have connotations that are hard to remove. Think for a moment about this scenario: you want to play a few holes of golf, but don’t feel like changing into an argyle jumper and slacks. The clothes leave you feeling stiff, plain and uninspired, decreasing your enjoyment of the beautiful game.
The big problem is that communities have a tendency to be intensely insular, sometimes to their own detriment. The golf community is no exception. Dominated by years of dull colors and homogenous designs, the fashion around the sport is in desperate need of an update. Fashion as a social agent can be used to unite people and families – an element that OGA employs to make the joys of golf accessible.
Using fashion to paint a different reality, Tim Hazelgrove explains a different scenario where an individual can dress for work and enjoy the game of golf without a change of clothes in between. “He’s dressed for the part. But then when he finishes he could actually go and have a couple of drinks or whatever, have dinner with somebody, in that same outfit.”
Oahu Golf Apparel successfully incorporates the essence of “aloha” as a lifestyle into the brand. Striking and unique, these cheerful threads are seeking to unite the larger golfing community irrespective of their age, gender and social standing.