Thursday, June 26, 2003


Designs by Mamo Howell will also be shown during the Governor's Fashion Awards show and ceremony tomorrow night.

McCullough’s reign
at Reyn’s rewarded

At 54 years old, Reyn Spooner President and CEO Tim McCullough might seem a bit young to be receiving the Ka 'Ahu No'eau Lifetime Achievement Award to be bestowed tomorrow at the "Made in Hawaii with Aloha" 17th annual Governor's Fashion Awards ceremony.

The "Four Seasons" print in red, white and pale green and blue by Iolani Sportswear, one of the companies participating in the Governor's Fashion Awards show, was recreated for a retrospective marking Iolani's 50th anniversary this year. The print was created in the early '50s when fashioning aloha shirts out of kimono silks was a revolutionary idea.

But consider this: He's been in the biz since the ripe old age of 10.

As the son of Reyn McCullough, who founded the company in 1949, Tim grew up sweeping floors and washing windows before graduating to pricing merchandise and eventually assisting customers.

He created his first T-shirt design when he was 17. An avid surfer then and now, he created a pareau-style design that wrapped around the shirt which was progressive at the time, when surfwear was still in its infancy.

The younger McCullough strayed from the path only once, when during the back-to-the-earth era of the early '70s, he wanted to try his hand at commercial farming. All the while, he couldn't help but notice the similarity to the family business.

"The business models are similar, even if the products are entirely different," he said by phone from company headquarters in Waimea on the Big Isle. "Every product is picked with the hope that the customer understands it, appreciates it and wants to consume it."

And McCullough knows better than to cross the customer. Having a Web site means the company learns quickly where their hits and misses are, as "consumers are the first ones to tell you what's wrong."

THE COMPANY initially found its niche in the '50s, creating an aloha shirt dignified enough for customers to wear professionally and casually. Back then, the only shirts on the market were poor fitting, loud-colored garments made for the fledgling tourism industry.

One of the company's biggest hits was an all-cotton, pullover aloha shirt with a button-down collar. But Reyn still wasn't satisfied with the intensity and brightness of the tropical- and calico-print fabrics he was using. He liked the shirts worn by surfers -- the prints bleached out by constant sun exposure -- and after experimenting with ways to achieve the same "chambray" effect, he realized the easiest solution was to simply turn his fabrics inside out. The company is still known as the originator of the "reverse print."

Reyn Spooner's "Gent Tapa" design was introduced in 1966.

A collection of Reyn Spooner vintage shirts, such as 1950s rayon "silkies" and 1960s tapa designs, will be shown during a 7:30 p.m. fashion show held in conjunction with the Governor's Fashion Awards ceremony. Also shown will be fall collections by other prominent local manufacturers such as Iolani Sportswear Ltd. and Mamo Howell.

McCullough's award is being presented by the Retail Merchants of Hawaii, while Crazy Shirts, which opened in a small space in Waikiki's International Market Place in 1964, will receive the First Hawaiian Bank Power of Yes Award, which recognizes outstanding achievement of a Hawaii company.

These days, Tim McCullough calls on dozens of local artists to create the vibrant prints favored by a new generation of fans raised in a landscape of graphic arts. The company's International Series utilizes the talents of Guy Buffet, Eddie Yamamoto and Dietrich Varez.

Most recently, McCullough re-established old family ties to reinterpret original South Pacific textile designs developed in the '50s and '60s by Alfred Shaheen.

Shaheen, a local textile designer, garment manufacturer and retailer in the Reyn Spooner mode, allowed a few of his fabrics to be sold in dry-goods stores for home sewing but refused to sell to any other manufacturer other than Reyn's.

"There was mutual respect between the two men, and Alfred was kind enough to allow my father to buy his fabric because he believed in the quality of the product," said McCullough, who remains true to the company's vision of dressing the professional crowd and the upscale visitor.

"We're never gonna be a Quiksilver, Billabong or Ocean Pacific line. We're not gonna be Slinky makers and make pant legs 8 feet too long," he said. "When I arrive in Honolulu and see people in dark, heavy stuff, I wonder how they survive in that. Just give me zoris and a comfortable aloha shirt."


17th annual Governor's
Fashion Awards

Honoring Tim McCullough of Reyn Spooner, Crazy Shirts and other winners:

Where: Hilton Hawaiian Village Coral Ballroom
When: 5:30 p.m. Friday, with exhibition of "Made in Hawaii" products, heavy pupu, and 7:30 p.m. fashion show of manufacturers' fall collections
Admission: $60, or $500 for a table of 10
Call: Wendy Yang at 592-4200 or email

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