Going back to school...

is as easy as A-B-C, one-two-three, 
that is, IF you've got the right stuff. 
We hit the malls to check out what
your classmates will be wearing.

By the way, did ya have a 
bitchin' summer?

School teens like Anne Rohr, left, and Kimberlee Tanaka scour
second-hand stores like Goodwill and Salvation Army for true retro
wear. "This is so cool," says Rohr. "You can create your own look..."

By Ken Sakamoto, Star-Bulletin

The year is 1969,
no, 1996!

By Burl Burlingame

AS Andy Bumatai laments, where ARE all these flashbacks we were promised back in the '60s? Don't look now, Andy, but teens in school in 1996 are looking like kids from 1969. It's the way we wore.

We're talking corduroy pants, bell-bottoms, horizontal stripes, lime green, daisies and paisleys, polyester shifts, T-shirts, surf shorts, and that awful shade of avocado green that was banished from this planet along with Nixon as president. It's baaaa-ack.

We talked to some kids and clerks at local shopping centers to get to the bottom of this retro reaction. Even with a groundswell of public opinion beginning to think about school uniforms, kids aren't in school all the time. As Alicisha Miyamoto, 11, who goes to Maryknoll, points out, even though she really likes her uniform, it's not appropriate to wear it out of class.

Jacie Ann Oda, 13, who goes to Mid-Pacific, was bargain-shopping for name brands such as Bongo Jeans and Town & Country T-shirts. "It's what the other kids are wearing," she said.

This kind of brand-label awareness is important, said salesperson Stacey Kunimura of Jeans Warehouse. "Kids are social conformists, and even though the kids are wearing dresses and tank tops and halter tops in high school this year, they don't want to appear TOO different."

So much for school uniforms.

Pam Chun, the buyer for Bubble Gum, said that polyester shift dresses in floral patterns are selling out. "They're SO popular," she said. "It's the '60s. There's nothing new in fashion. What's also big now is surf wear, which started in Hawaii, went to the mainland and now it's coming back. Rashguard tops" - meant to keep board wax from irritating the skin - "has become a fashionable top on its own.

"The labels that are popular are those that mean surfing, like Billabong. The mainstream department stores can't get them in, which makes the kids want them even more."

Tara Tom, salesperson at surf shop Town & Country, confirmed that logo shirts are doing well. "What's also doing well are board shorts, for both males and females. These are like swimsuits, out of fast-dry material, but cut like shorts."

Angela Ige, 12, with cousin Jodi Ige, 9, tracks down dresses
with flower prints, a hot item among the back-to-school set.

By Ken Sakamoto, Star-Bulletin

Salesperson Brian Cabreres at HIC said that the traditional aloha pattern shorts are doing well, but the board shorts have really taken off. "That because you can swim in 'em and they dry quick," he said.

"Flower prints - that's what's hot. Flowers on shorts, skirts and dresses," said Tandy Awaya, 14, Punahou. "The T-shirts are still big - Local Motion, HIC - but I'm going into 10th grade. I'll be wearing more dresses."

Maile Paalani, 18, starts attending Brigham Young University this fall, and the school's dress code calls for pants or dresses, and the dresses must have sleeves. Other than that, "browns and earth tones and blacks and flowers are nice," said Paalani.

Sister Mary-Ann Paalani, 15, can get a little funkier at Roosevelt. "Baby Ts, tight shirts and loose pants, Bongo Jeans - and plenty of stripes!" said Paalani the Younger.

Jasmine Weaver, 16, and Keola Weaver, 13, both at Nanakuli, love the baggy-pants look combined with tight T-shirts. "Surf shirts, the small kine, with big shorts," said Keola.

At the Body Shop, store manager Janet Souza called it the "street look. Basically oversize - oversized pants, or oversized shirts. It's so retro. Styles come back. In the 1950s we called them 'drape' pants; the only difference is that the kids today wear them low instead of around the waist. What also coming back is parachute pants, and the nylon is called 'flight satin.'"

Sean N. Domingo, 12, Waipahu Intermediate, was spending his Star-Bulletin paperboy earnings on clothes. "So now when I see something I like, I can get it. Today, I'm getting Brian Brothers shorts. Yeah, I'm choosier when it's my own money."

If you want truly retro, try Salvation Army or Goodwill. We found Anne Rohr, 17, Chaminade, and Kimberlee Tanaka, 17, KCC, marveling over the polyester at the Kaimuki Goodwill. "This is so cool," said Rohr. "You can create your own look for almost no money."

"Yeah, no one else is wearing this these days, anymore," said Tanaka. "The polyester feels so high-tech and glossy."

At Rave, Pearlridge, the colors and fabrics are so '60s you can almost smell the oregano. District manager Rachel Domingo - no relation to Sean - said, "Yeah, it's kind of retro. Halter tops. Polyester dresses. Coveralls. Bell-bottom pants. Denier shirts. Corduroys. The big difference between then and now is that today the colors are more vibrant and more permanent."

"Feel this!" marveled Angela Ige, 12, Aiea Intermediate. "This is amazing fabric! It's reggae! It's the bomb! It's so colorful! It feels INCREDIBLE!"

The fabric in question was polyester knit, a violent lime green, with big white daisies. Sock it to me, Goldie.

You know, Angela, this is what girls were wearing waaaaay back when Star-Bulletin reporters were in intermediate school.

"No way!" - thunderstruck - "Really?" Angela Ige began to giggle uncontrollably. Maybe it was pretty funny, after all.

Fashion session at Kahala Mall

Ready for one last back-to-school fashion cram session? TV news personalities Lee Cataluna and Guy Hagi will be the hosts Saturday, for "Kahala Mall Answers Back to School Multiple Choice."

The event, beginning at noon at the mall's center stage, will feature facts on denim and finding the cut that suits you, the how-tos of putting together a wardrobe for any budget and occasion, and a Nike workshop with shoelace-tying tournament.

You don't need to be on the Honor Roll to see it's the smart place to be.

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