Soon after contact with Europeans in the late eighteenth-century, Hawaiians became interested in western clothing and accessories for their own self-fashioning. During the nineteenth-century, traditional Hawaiian dress styles were repurposed or exchanged for articles of western clothing, fabric, goods, and money. This PhD project aims to investigate this phenomenon, using Hawaiian language sources and art historical approaches to place Hawaiian concerns and creativity at the centre of this engagement with foreign fashion, which led to new forms and transformations.
The principal aim of this project is to identify, historicize, and analyze Hawaiian clothing and related objects, now mostly housed in museums, as products and projections of Hawaiian self-fashioning and socio-political positioning.
- What were the traditional restrictions and practices of Hawaiian dress and how did increased accessibility to alternative clothing alter these systems?
- To what extent were clothing and accessories used as sources of wealth, power, and prosperity?
- How were foreign fashions sourced and what were Hawaiians exchanging in return?
- How did Hawaiian interest in foreign fashion encourage the creation of new fashions made of Native materials?