Meet the makers designing lifestyle products that uniquely reflect the authentic moʻolelo (stories) of our islands. Aloha Modern cofounders, Mālia Kaʻaihue and Reyn Mukawa will share some of the most powerful and fascinating Hawaiian legends passed down in from generation to generation. Plus, learn how these mo‘olelo (stories) inspire the lifestyle products they design.
The word Hilo has multiple meanings, but one of the main definitions is "to braid or twist." Hilo was also the name of a famous navigator. Lastly, Hilo is the first, or new moon, and it was derived from the earlier two meanings. As the slender new moon sets in the western sky it often has a twisted appearance thus having the name Hilo. Because this is the first moon it acts as a navigator for the moons to follow. Traditionally it was felt that this was a good moon for deep sea fishing but bad for reef fishing and gathering of any below ground roots and vegetables. Hilo is also a type of grass, mau‘u hilo, as well as a variety of sweet potato.
Made from absorbent light-weight suede microfiber that's impossibly soft to the touch yet extremely durable and fast drying, these stylish, microbe resistant, 100% suede microfiber towels are sand-resistant, a great way to dry off after a morning surf session, a hard workout at the gym, working in the field, staying dry on the snow slopes or a simple topper for your yoga mat. Towels are sized at 72" by 30".
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.