Textile Society of America


Date of this Version



Textiles as Cultural Expressions: Proceedings of the 11th Biennial Symposium of the Textile Society of America, September 24–27, 2008, Honolulu, Hawaii


Copyright 2008 by the author.


Aloha! Today, I would like to take you on a vicarious journey back to the good ole’ plantation days through “Textiles As Cultural Expressions.” More than anything, clothing reflected the pride and keen sense of practicality with which the immigrants endured their hardships. This was nowhere more apparent than in Hawaii at the turn of the century, where new immigrants from China, Portugal, Spain, Japan, Korea, Philippines and other countries came to work on the sugarcane and pineapple plantations. Each ethnic group was easily distinguished by their native costumes.

From 1885 to 1924, more than 200,000 Japanese immigrants came to Hawaii to work on the sugarcane and pineapple plantations. The issei men and women, the first generation Japanese, brought with them a rich cultural heritage; their traditional clothing was an important part of that heritage.

During the Restrictive Immigration Period of 1908 to 1924, also known as the picture bride period, more than 20,000 picture brides came to Hawaii to marry issei plantation workers. The mass influx of picture brides marked the transition from a society of single male transients to one of permanent residents. It was during this period that many varieties of hand woven cotton kasuri (ikat), sturdy cotton kimonos, fine silk kimonos and obi sashes were introduced to Hawaii.