Shortly after the conclusion of WWII a movement was beginning on the Hawaiian island of Oahu. While Honolulu drew in first-time vacationers, around the corner in the town of Makaha, surfing, both as a sport and a culture, was coming into its own. Leading the way with what many consider to be the first iteration of what we now call “boardshorts,” M.Nii tailor shop supplied the area’s young guns with durable, high-quality trunks that could take the beating the Makaha surf routinely handed out. M.Nii gradually fell by the wayside in the 1960s and ’70s, until surf industry veterans Randy Hild and John Moore brought the brand back to life in early 2012.
When we last caught up with Hild and Moore the brand was in its early stages, toting a handful of recreated authentic Makaha Drowner trunks and a small selection of T-shirts. “The beginning period of the surfing lifestyle is what we’re trying to share through our story telling and product,” says Hild. “We really like living through that 1950s filter, but you know it still has to be relevant to today.” Now moving into their first winter season the design team is introducing a few new key components, lead by a period-specific baggy chino and a vintage-inspired Polynesian print blazer.
The most eye-catching example of this updated-vintage vibe would have to be the Polynesian print blazer. A “party jacket” at its aesthetic core, the look and feel directly mimics that of a very small number of authentic blazers sold in Hawaii in the ’60s and early ’70s. While the wild style seems novel to us, the short-lived original blazers of the era were most likely worn on “Aloha Fridays” during the time Hawaiian print shirts were introduced into the work environment. “It was meant to be a serious proper sport coat, but in the Hawaii it was just part of the flavor,” says Hild. “It was just part of that casual aloha style of wearing Hawaiian prints to work, but it obviously didn’t go too far. I think the aloha shirt had much longer legs.”
With an endless supply of surplus military garments in the ’50s most surfers took to wearing the bomb-proof chinos both in and out of the water. This style of cut-off khakis grew into a look unique to the men of Makaha, becoming an unofficial uniform for most locals. As a nod to these beginnings of the casual beach-bum style M.Nii offers their take on the chino, the Makaha Drowner Pant. The era-inspired pant is made of durable two-ply, ring spun twill fabric and boasts a baggy, relaxed fit with heavy contrast stitching.
While the blazer and chino make up the most exciting additions, a slew of striped T-shirts and sweatshirts will no doubt hold a presence in the line as well. As “a surfer’s badge of honor,” the iconic striped T-shirt was introduced to the culture as a whole by surf legend Duke Boyd and his brand Hang Ten around 1963. N.Mii’s selection mimics this laid-back, creative style.
In addition to the blazer, chinos and T-shirts the M.Nii Winter 2012 collection will of course include a selection of updated Makaha Drowner trunks and some carryovers from their introductory summer season. For a closer look at M.Nii’s new collection and some of the history that inspired it see the slideshow.
Top image by Tom Keck