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Gillian Flynn | Photo: Jyoti Mau | August 28, 2013
An unlikely north park boutique gains status as a global style hub.
If anyone knows a thing or two about building a beach lifestyle brand, it’s Kahana Kalama. The former pro surfer turned fashion visionary is certainly having his moment in the sun. His heritage men’s line, Aloha Sunday, named for his North Park boutique (and hipster HQ), has been picked up by Ron Herman stores in L.A. and Japan, and boutiques like Boston’s Ball & Buck, which only stocks made-in-the-USA brands (alohasunday.com).
He’s also been tapped by Starbucks and Sony to produce videos that evoke his curated brand of sandy, sun-drenched cool. You know the look: tousled hair, vintage VW vans and ukuleles mingle with hypertailored beach togs and bespoke surfboards. In other words, it’s the bro set, elevated, thanks to Kalama’s exacting eye. “The market they are going after is exactly who we consider our customer,” says Kalama, who grew up in a surfing family (his uncle is big-wave surfer Dave Kalama) and splits his time between here and O‘ahu—what he dubs “Pacific bicoastal.” “We do this thing, Monday beach club, where we bring a big group of friends down to the beach and take photos. And that’s what Sony wanted.” The campaign, launching this fall, is to promote Sony’s new Cyber-shot camera.
The 30-year-old said he took a gamble two years ago when he opened the surf shop in, err, North Park—not exactly a beach bastion. But it stuck. Today, it’s become a salon for on-the-verge brands and plays host to movie screenings and art parties. “It’s very much a community,” says Kalama, who hangs locally at Bottlecraft and Coffee & Tea Collective.
The Aloha Sunday customer is someone who appreciates ethically manufactured clothes with a grownup appeal. “They may or may not be a surfer but they enjoy that aesthetic.” This fall, looks include cable-knit sweaters, tweed blazers and professorial wool jackets. “We call it a tropical wool because it’s lightweight,” says Kalama. “It’s for the resort lifestyle.”