Sometimes the best menswear finds are purely serendipitous.
Last week, I was vacationing with my family on Kauai, one of Hawaii’s quieter islands. The plan was to enjoy the beach and some hiking, but I noticed an oblique reference in a web post to a lady on the Garden Isle who made custom aloha shirts. Of course I had to investigate.
Friday night, my wife and I pulled into the little town of Hanapepe, looking for a storefront called Jacqueline on Kaua’i. The streets were clogged – there was some sort of chocolate festival in town – and parking was a nightmare, but we finally made it to the shop.
Jacqueline Vienna has lived in Kauai for forty years, and for most of that time she’s been making aloha shirts. Once upon a time she did extra work, smoking joints just off-screen on The Love Boat, but for thirty years or so, sewing has been her main gig, and she convincingly describes it as her true passion.
Inside the shop, you’ll find a variety of aloha shirts that Jacqueline’s made by hand, along with some little bits and bobs – aloha fabric Christmas stockings, some lounge shorts made from old rice bags. Mostly, though, you’ll find Jacqueline, her patterns and her sewing machine, getting to work on uniforms for the senior baseball team (they just won nationals in Albuquerque) or a shirt for a tourist who wandered in. She promises your shirt will be made in 48 hours, but from what I hear, she usually turns it around in two. The walls are lined with photos of satisfied customers.
She’s got deals with the fabric stores on the island – she’ll give you ten bucks off if you bring in your own textile. Her own selection tends towards the touristy, though thankfully it’s all cotton (she abhors polyester and longs for the days when she could get good rayon). She needs about three yards for the shirt – sometimes three and a half if the pattern’s long, since she insists on matching the pocket.
If you’re in Kauai, you can stop by and visit Jacqueline at 3837 Hanapepe Road. She’s around most days. You can also call and order by phone – she’s not much on email but her friend will help send pictures. The number at the shop is 808-335-5797. And it’s really her answering the phone.