Our good friends, Hawaiian Airlines celebrated 85 years of continuous passenger service today from Hawaii. And within those 85 years, have celebrated the very best in Hawaiian hospitality and design.
Hawai’i’s first interisland passenger service was launched on Nov. 11, 1929 as Inter-Island Airways, with a flight from Honolulu to Hilo, which took a total of one hour and 40 minutes. The first flight to Kaua’i was made the following day and all the Hawaiian Islands were soon receiving air service on a regular basis. During this time, the first inflight treat offered to passengers was a stick of Wrigley gum to relieve ear pressure. The 85-year-old airline revived that in-flight amenity for one day today by handing out Wrigley’s Doublemint® gum, which is also celebrating its 100th anniversary this year, along with a commemorative postcard and historic logo stickers to more than 12,000 passengers on all of its neighbor island flights.
But it’s the uniforms that we are looking at, which were the crowing glory in Hawaii’s Fashion Week last week. Here’s a retrospective of the airline’s wonderful, bright and colourful outfits over the past 85 years.
When Hawaiian Airlines added 24-seat DC-3 aircraft to its fleet, it hired its first hostesses to serve passengers on board. The basic uniform started with a gray jacket and matching skirt with a white blouse before other elements were added throughout the 1940s such as a military cap and black stripe on the sleeve.
In 1960, when the first commercial jet service between Los Angeles and Honolulu began, the uniform color changed from gray to blue. The jacket sleeves were shortened to three-quarters, and matching colored berets were added along with a set of wings.
In 1966, Hawaiian Airlines rolled out new uniforms for its flight attendants in conjunction with the unveiling of the new DC-9 Royal Fan Jet service it added to its fleet that year. The uniforms were considered high fashion and featured a gorgeous three-piece ensemble topped by a white straw beret. The jacket and A-line skirt were 45 percent wool and 55 percent polyester Dacron. The jackets featured a smart shawl collar and practical three-quarter-length sleeves. A Dacron and cotton over-blouse, worn beneath the jacket, featured a jewel neckline, curved seams and buttons trimmed in front. The blouse’s short sleeves were piped with the same turquoise blue to match the skirt and jacket. A turquoise blue rim outlined the band on the beret. The uniform was designed and produced by Fashions by Hino, one of Hawaii’s leading dress manufacturers at the time.
“Flower Power” was the key to Hawaiian Airlines’ Fashion Flight Attendant Plan for 1968, according to the then president John H. Magoon, Jr. An A-line dress in a print designed specifically for Hawaiian Airlines by Tiger Fabrics of New york, was the basic feature of the flower power fashion. The printed featured stylized plumeria flowers in a sunburst yellow, jade green and sky blue color scheme, harmoniously blended in the vibrant floral cotton fabric. Flight attendants had the option of wearing the dress with either a short split sleeve or sleeveless. Fresh plumeria flowers were worn in the hair as part of the ensemble. Kahala Sportswear of Honolulu produced the striking garments which came in three options lengths. Pale yellow hose accented the ensemble’s major color flow. David Evins of the renowned Evins Shoe Company of New York designed the shoes. Yellow shoes in a basket weave pattern were accented with a stylized plumeria flower ornament on the toe of each shoe. Comfortable medium heels were the other option for shoes. Park Lane, noted New York fashion house, produced the styled purse in complimentary yellow leather.
Hawaiian Airlines’ flight attendant uniforms in 1971 reflected the chic of contemporary fashion yet drew on the unchanging colors of Hawaii. It featured a two-piece outfit consisting of a dress and jacket. The dress was a soft nylon knit of Hawaiian Airlines’ own print design in turquoise greens and rich blues, the colors of Hawaii’s seas and skies. The jacket was tailored from an artificial linen in royal blue to complement the dress fabric. The short-sleeve, knee-length dress had a sassy slit in the front. The accessories included low-heeled pumps, lace boots and sandals, which were all white. Scarves were used as headgear or sash belt or ascot tie. There was also a golden pendant worn on a chain around the neck, which was a stylized fish to represent the Hawaiian’s conquest of the seas. The fish also symbolized strength and good luck in Asian culture. Richard Tam of San Francisco designed the ensemble. His brand label at the time could be found at Saks Fifth Avenue and Bergdorf Goodman—luxury department stores.
In 1974, Malia International designed easy-to-wear uniforms for the female flight attendants. The ensemble consisted of five items in a floral print, 100 percent polyester knit that can be combined into a number of different outfits. A long dress or muumuu for the traditional island look; a short dress; a top-and-skirt combination, plus a shirt jacket to be worn with any of the other garments. Crisp white accessories for the uniform—shoes, handbag, jewelry, etc.—complemented the outfit.
Malia International, Ltd. designed the flight attendant uniforms in 1977, which include a jump suit, a long muumuu, jacket, solid scarf and print scarf. The floral print features Flower of the Sky colors against a cream background. There is a top that includes a solid tomato-red body suit.
Hawaiian Airlines’ brilliant hibiscus red and bright orchid logo colors at the time inspired the creation of an exclusive print named “Sky” for the uniform program in 1979. Flight attendants were able to make 20 different outfits from a versatile wardrobe of six colorful garments. The sophisticated ensemble was introduced on Hawaiian Airlines’ 50th anniversary on November 11, 1979. Design and production of the uniforms were by Identify Apparel Division (I Am!) of Malia International, a leading Hawaii garment manufacturer at the time.
In the 1980s, Hawaiian Airlines began hiring its first group of male flight attendants. In celebration of its 60th anniversary, the airline rolled out new uniforms for all of its employees for a more contemporary and professional look to complement the national and international scope of its service. The flight attendant uniform for men consisted of the patterned 50/50 poly-cotton shirt in mauve, with the option of short or long sleeves, and a poly-cotton dress pant in a brownish stone-grey color. The female flight attendant uniform included a blouse that matched the men’s shirt and was worn with a skirt or dress slacks in stone grey and matching blazer or shirtwaist dress with matching belt.
Inspired by the traditional Hawaiian quilt, Hawaiian Airlines unveiled a new flight attendant uniform that featured the classic quilting tradition with its Pualani logo in the center, surrounded by an intricate design that included indigenous Hawaiian plants and flowers and also the airline’s DC-9 aircraft.
As Hawaiian Airlines moved into a new era of service, it changed its flight attendant uniform for both men and women to feature a cotton blend Hawaiian print that was a navy-and-amethyst-on-eggshell rendition of the ‘i’iwi bird—a scarlet feather native bird that had been used as a symbol of Hawaiian Airlines since the 1940s. The women’s blazer and dress featured the airline’s signature amethyst color in a tropical-weight wool herringbone, while the men’s blazer styles were a deep navy in the same herringbone weave. The pewter buttons were custom made with the airline’s Pualani logo embossed into them.
2009 – Present
In celebration of its 80th anniversary in 2009, Hawaiian Airlines debuted a new uniform that is currently used today. Hawaii designer Emma Howard incorporated the input from employees in creating the new uniform’s print design, drawing inspiration from the Hawaiian word makahiki, which resulted from combining the words for “flight” and “movement.” Design elements in the new uniforms feature:
- The star grouping Makali‘i, whose ascension in late October and early November (the period of Hawaiian’s founding in 1929) signals the start of makahiki, a time of rejuvenation in the traditional Hawaiian calendar also considered a celebratory time of harvest and peace for the Hawaiian people.
- A petroglyph of Lono, the Hawaiian god of clouds, the sea, and productivity.
- The fish opelu and akule, both of which were traditionally caught during the period of makahiki.
- The bird noio, because of its importance to Polynesian voyagers who knew they were approaching land when it was seen.
The most noticeable change in the new uniforms is the color palette – Azure – representing the color of Hawaii’s ocean and sky. A central objective of the company’s employee-driven uniform committee was to give the uniforms a more sophisticated, forward-looking appearance, while retaining a distinctive, evocative image in a world of navy colors favored by other carriers. An azure dress and blazer was added for the women.
The Big Picture
Well done Hawaiian Airlines on a magical history of stunning uniforms, we love the uniforms from the 60s to the 80s and hope that Hawaiian may consider bringing some of these designs back to their wardrobe soon. Floral Jump-suits, seriously? Awesome.