Kahala's Enigma design features Polynesian motifs inspired by Tahiti, in 100 percent cotton broadcloth, $68.
Heart on its sleeve
The Kahala brand succeeds anew by going back to its roots
In an era of business expansion and consolidation, we've seen many a big company gobble up smaller ones in search of growth. The process has led to corporate marriages both happy and tense, some ending in a split or eventual shutdown when success proves elusive.
The marriage of two venerable Hawaii companies, Tori Richard and Kahala, is unusual in that it started with a shutdown of operations.
RICHARD WALKER / RWALKER@STARBULLETIN.COM
Josh Feldman, left, and Dale Hope show the new Kahala bouttique at Ala Moana Center. Feldman is wearing the Miro shirt, reproduced from a 1950s vintage Kahala design he found on eBay. Hope wears the Hawai'i Territory design.
It wasn't an easy decision for Tori Richard CEO and President Josh Feldman, whose company purchased the Kahala brand from Local Motion in 2006.
"At the time, Kahala had a sizable business. We stopped it all. We took it dark," Feldman said. "There was a big danger in that, but we felt that we had to do it rather than keep doing stuff that we believed was fundamentally wrong.
"We walked away from a sizable amount of dollar volume but kept trying to remind people we were coming back. We did have some bridge product to hold us over."
Kahala's Tapa Baka design on 100 percent cotton broadcloth is $68.
The result, after about nine months, was the rebirth of Kahala and the first concept store showcasing the kamaaina brand at the Ala Moana Center Nordstrom wing, mall level.
The aloha shirts that have long been the company's signature are back for men who have missed them. Less obvious to 10-minute shoppers is the feeling that in rediscovering its roots, Kahala has found its heart.