Love At Dawn Gives Second Life to Vintage Aloha Shirts and Mu‘umu‘u

Designer Angela Matsuo’s sustainable spin on alohawear reimagines classic Hawai‘i fashions in fresh, unexpected ways.


For proof that what goes around comes around, look no further than Love At Dawn. The Honolulu label, helmed by designer Angela Matsuo, recently caught our attention with its fresh take on upcycled alohawear.


Love At Dawn women wearing dresses

Photos: Courtesy of Hana Hou Hilo, Love At Dawn


Matsuo first began repurposing vintage finds while studying design at the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in Los Angeles. “I would thrift for furniture, then update the items by painting them or switching out the hardware,” she says.


One day while hunting for home items, she wandered over to the clothing section and stumbled across some gorgeous vintage dresses that were too good to pass up. “They were these beautiful cocktail dresses that looked like they were from the ‘50s—fitted with black velvet, brooches and interesting materials, like something Audrey Hepburn would have worn. I fell in love but knew that I would have to tweak them.”


SEE ALSO: 3 Local Businesses Hunt Down Vintage Pieces That We Can Buy, Borrow and Brag About


Angela Matsuo woman standing in front of mural

Matsuo rocking vintage. Photo: Courtesy of Love At Dawn


Matsuo altered the dresses and, as she wore them out, quickly found herself on the receiving end of compliments and inquiries as to where they could be purchased. “People would actually say, I’ll buy that from you, just mail it when you’re done wearing it.”


Once she moved back to Hawai‘i, thrifting meant unearthing a ton of great vintage aloha shirts and mu‘umu‘u, including gems from Island labels such as Tori Richard, Cooke Street and Bishop Street. “I try to infuse the pieces with fun, youthful elements while not losing their unique features.” For mu‘umu‘u, along with adjusting the length, Matsuo would add cut-out details, a dipped back or a halter neckline. Some dresses would even transform into sets.


Love At Dawn woman wearing aloha shirt

Before and after snaps of a Cooke Street aloha shirt. Photos: Brie Thalmann, Aaron K. Yoshino


This past year, she began making cropped aloha shirts, which flew off the shelves of her pop-up shop at Ala Moana Center. “They sold out immediately,” she says. Ever conscious of sustainability, she’s now looking to incorporate the remaining fabric into future designs. “I’m thinking about using it as trim on coordinating solid shorts.”


While her pop-up boutique has closed, you can shop all of Matsuo’s one-of-a-kind designs plus her curated selection of unaltered vintage finds online via her website. And keep an eye out for Love At Dawn at local shopping markets this year.


Love At Dawn,, @loveatdawnhawaii


SEE ALSO: Here’s Where to Get Cool Eco-Products on O‘ahu