January 25, 2007

shaheen I had never heard of Alfred Shaheen until a few days before Christmas when I became privy to a thread of frantic e-mails going back and forth between my wife Tracey and a woman named Camille Shaheen about a set of etched Hawaiian tiki god cocktail glasses she had ordered as a Christmas present.

(First a disclaimer: No, I’m not the kind of guy that snoops around for Christmas presents, it’s just that we both share a home PC and Microsoft Outlook mail accounts, and when you’re checking your e-mail each morning and find e-mails with frantic subject matters like, “Please Read This E-mail!” and, “Need a response quickly!” – well, that kind of stuff catches your eye – especially when it’s the week before Christmas. So there.)

OK, where was I? Oh yes. So, you might well ask, who is Alfred Shaheen? Turns out Mr. Shaheen was the absolute king of Waikiki “cool” when it came to textile printing and clothing design back in the ’50s and ’60s. Most people who have visited Hawaii might think of Hilo Hattie (a popular tourist chain located throughout the Islands) when it comes to Hawaiian clothing, but Alfred Shaheen’s designs remain the real deal, drawing inspiration from traditional Hawaiian themes to create chic, sexy, and classic designs that were anything but run of the mill. So much so, that he became a true cultural icon, right up there with legends like Duke Kahanamoku, Don Ho and Don the Beachcomber. This, from his daughter Camille’s website:

Alfred Shaheen was one of the most creative and prolific of all of the Hawaiian manufacturers in the heyday of ’50s and ’60s fashion. His textile designs and fabrics are legendary and were inspired by Hawaii, the South Pacific and Asia. Born into the industry, Shaheen built the most comprehensive textile printing, garment manufacturing and retail company Hawaii would ever see. In recognition of his contributions to the State of Hawaii, in July of 2001, Shaheen was presented with Hawaii’s Lifetime Achievement Award. In July of 2006, Hawaii’s premier newspaper, The Honolulu Advertiser, included Shaheen among the 150 most influential people, events, and institutions to impact social, economic, political, and cultural changes in Hawaii from 1856 to the present.

Alfred Shaheen designed and manufactured fabrics and clothing for over 40 years. His earliest labels include Alfred Shaheen, Shaheen’s of Honolulu, Surf ‘n Sand, Kiilani and Burma Gold Handprints. Although these wonderful handprints have been out of production for many years, they’re not lost to the world. Shaheen’s fabulous handprints are here again, and these timeless classics are being brought to you in a multitude of ways: aloha shirts, etched crystal and glass, and hand-screened contemporary clothing.

Looking at the vintage clothing and designs found on both Shaheen’s website and it’s companion site, Surf ‘n Sand, it’s easy to find one’s imagination transported to faraway places both magical and tropical, where tradewinds rustle palm trees along sandy beaches, the scent of tropical flowers fills the air, and the sun glistens off shaved ice floating atop a perfect Cosmopolitan. Ms. Shaheen is rightly proud of her father’s marvelous work and legacy, and you can bet a double bogie The Great White Shank looks forward to purchasing a couple of his classic-design Hawaiian shirts for this summer’s Goodboys Invitational. If you’re looking for classic and chic Hawaiian designs in a contemporary setting, you can’t do better than the clothing, beachwear, and etched glassware found at the Alfred Shaheen websites; I do hope you’ll stop by for a browse. And, just soze you knows, Ms. Camille packs a mean gift package!

BTW, those etched tiki god glasses I got for Christmas look and drink awfully stylish. So stylish, in fact, that I’m proud to add Camille’s website to the Goodboys Nation blogroll. If you drop by, be sure to tell her The Great White Shank sends his fondest regards. She’s a lovely lady – someone her father can be mighty proud of, and even though we’ve only conversed by e-mail, I’m glad to have come to know her as a friend.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 01:26 | Comments Off on Alfred Shaheen – King of Waikiki Cool
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