KŌWA The nine channels that connect the islands of our pae ‘āina each have unique names and characteristics. The ‘Alenuihāhā (great billows smashing) Channel separates Hawai‘i and Maui. The ‘Alalākeiki (crying baby) Channel separates the islands of Kaho‘olawe and Maui. The Kealaikahiki Channel is the channel between Lāna‘i and Kaho‘olawe. It literally means “the road to Tahiti” and it was thought if one takes a bearing off Kealaikahiki Point on Kaho‘olawe the channel faces Tahiti. The ‘Au‘au Channel is one of the most protected areas of ocean in the Hawaiian Islands, lying between Lāna‘i and Maui. ‘Au‘au translates to “to take a bath” referring to its calm bath-like conditions. The Pailolo Channel separates the islands of Moloka‘i and Maui, named after the crazy fishermen who would dare to traverse these rough waters. The Kalohi (the slowness) Channel is the stretch of water separating Lāna‘i and Moloka‘i. The Kaiwi (the bone) Channel separates the islands of O‘ahu and Moloka‘i. The Ka‘ie‘ie Waho Channel separates the islands of Kaua‘i and O‘ahu. Ka‘ie‘ie Waho means “Outer Ka‘ie‘ie,” named after the ‘ie‘ie vine. The Kaulakahi Channel separates the islands of Ni‘ihau and Kaua‘i, translating to “the single flame” representative of the streaks of sunset colors.
It was a winning combination of creative conversations during pau hana, ingenuity and a desire to honor the culture of Hawaiʻi that Aloha Modern came to be. The designs of the brand’s products from its beach towels to bedsheets are inspired by the stars, ocean and landscapes–as seen from an island-rooted perspective. Through their brand, founders Mālia Kaʻaihue and Reyn Mukawa offer products that can be used in daily life, but have the heart of an heirloom. The duo’s prints authentically share island stories, honor the past, all while offering a genuine product for generations to come.
By day, Kaʻaihue is president of DTL, a strategy, design, and communication studio grounded in Hawaiian culture. The architecture firm, where Mukawa works, specializes in environmentally and culturally appropriate designs that add value to the community. Aloha Modern began as a creative project for Kaʻaihue and Mukawa to dive into after their day jobs. However, the ethos of their work—to develop and foster authentic Hawaiʻi stories—pulses through the heart of their shared business.
The brand started with bags and round towels as its owners found that locals sought something that was more in line with their taste and not designed for tourists. Aloha Modern designs are intimate, as its founders say they design for their families. While Aloha Modern inspiration remains close to home, the genuine reflection of local culture is an aspect of its brand that has attracted other international markets. Today, the company has even earned a significant interest from customers in Japan.Within the last four years, Ka‘aihue and Mukawa’s collaboration has led to a thriving lifestyle brand. Apparent in its prints, the original desire of Aloha Modern's founders has materialized. These days, their line of products includes apparel, beach blankets, towels, bedsheets and totes. Each item on Aloha Modern's shop is accompanied by amoʻolelo (story) in the product description, which explains the meaning behind the item’s name and design.