How an iconic Oahu bowling alley inspired this designer’s latest aloha shirt print

Popular aloha shirt designer Roberta Oaks started her brand in 2004.
Published: Dec. 5, 2022 at 2:38 PM HST|Updated: Dec. 5, 2022 at 4:35 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Popular aloha shirt designer Roberta Oaks started her brand in 2004. But up until now she had never come up with an aloha shirt that featured a print inspired by a building.

“I think people loved the fact that it was something a little bit different,” she said.

It’s different because it’s not your typical floral fashioned shirt. Oaks was inspired by the concrete blocks that give the old Pali Lanes building in Kailua its iconic look.

The idea for the breeze block design came from Oak’s architect friend.

“When he first approached me about doing some shirts, it was when there was this big movement behind trying to save the Pali Lanes,” she said.

But the shirt didn’t get off her sewing machine until the pandemic happened.

“Over COVID with the down time, it was a good time to pick up the project and do something that was fun too,” she said.

She also designed another shirt that copies another popular breeze block pattern seen on multiple buildings around town.

She says new ideas are everywhere.

“Once you tell your brain it exists, you start seeing it everywhere,” she said.

For her, the Pali Lanes project was personal. She was a big fan of the bowling alley. And breeze block adds another dimension to her design, and that’s good for business.

“It’s exciting seeing the brand spreading around and people spreading Aloha far away as well,” she said.

If you want to get your hands on one of her Pali Lanes shirt at or in her Chinatown shop, better move fast. They’re nearly sold out.