From Our Files: Fashion

January Archives


When our predecessor, Paradise of the Pacific, launched in 1888, it physically resembled a newspaper, but by the 1890s became a glossy stock publication, a true modern magazine. In the early 20th century, it seldom discussed fashion as we would recognize it—stylish, of-the-moment trend pieces. More often, the magazine was interested in ethnic costumes; the quainter, the better, as in this Paradise photo titled, “A Dainty Maid of Japan.”



The idea of “fashion”—wearing something for the sake of its contemporary, stylish design—first appears in Paradise through advertising more than

in the articles. In December 1921, Liberty House began advertising women’s wear with a half-page ad that was the issue’s only nod to fashion. By 1923, Liberty House was taking out full-page ads such as this one, hand drawn in a style as thoroughly 1920s as the dresses depicted. “The latest mode, translated to suit Hawaii’s climate, at prices unquestionably moderate.”



World War II was over, and people had a lot of shopping to do. By 1949, the magazine was running a semi-regular column titled, “Be Fashioned By Hawaii,” and this is a typical example of the kind of clothing featured in its discussions of Aloha Week Fashion shows and new boutiques. Original caption? “A Pacific Primitive—created by Marion of Honolulu.”




Through the statehood era,  Paradise often boosted the emerging aloha-attire industry, here promoting  the mu‘umu‘u with such arguments  as: “Husbands, generally anti-any  garment so concealing, have discovered that the little woman can be ready to go out in a jiffy, so they  end up saying: Just slip on a mu‘umu‘u, Dear!”



March/ April 1965 

By the 1960s, fashion coverage became a more elaborate affair, with models hired, locations sought, extras drafted into the storytelling effort. Here, the magazine emphasized the comfort and wearability of the season’s resort wear by depicting it as “clothes to karate in.” 



April 1971

HONOLULU notes that a nickname for Hackfeld and Co., predecessor to Liberty House, was “Mauna Kalika,” mountain of silk.

October 1977

The ’70s, as an era of fashion, actually happened. Lest this tragedy be forgotten, here’s a glimpse of what the magazine thought people should wear to their “disco-inferno.”



October 1985

At times, HONOLULU has taken a fashion-y approach to its covers, even to illustrate serious stories. Competition for attention on the newsstand is always intense, and a magazine needs to be instantly eye-catching and contemporary. This cover story about the quality of Island colleges was accidentally a mid-’80s fashion time capsule. 


September 1996

Fashion and graphic design influence each other, and both experiment with technological advances to do new things visually. Here the magazine went a little crazy with then-new photo-editing software, by imposing gargantuan models into the Honolulu skyline. 



Our History  

In 1888, King Kalakaua issued a royal charter, commissioning a magazine. Then titled Paradise of the Pacific, this publication became HONOLULU Magazine, making it the oldest magazine west of the Mississippi.