Do you mu‘u during January’s Mu‘umu‘u Month?

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    Shannon Hiramoto, founder of the first Mu‘umu‘u Month, fifth from left, Jamilee Jimenez, sixth from right, and other mu‘umu‘u enthusiasts accept a proclamation from Carrice Gardner, Gov. David Ige’s Kaua‘i liaison, center, announcing the Eighth annual Mu‘umu‘u Month observance Friday ahead of a tour of the Kaua‘i Museum on Rice Street in Lihu‘e.

Gov. David Ige encourages people to join the “mu‘umu‘uvement” of preserving and celebrating these iconic dresses that evoke memories of simpler times and are a signature of Hawai‘i’s unique fashion history.

He said that in a proclamation announcing January as Mu‘umu‘u Month. The proclamation was presented to Shannon Hiramoto, Jamilee Jimenez and a group of mu‘umu‘u enthusiasts who gathered at the Kaua‘i Museum for a tour of the museum, garbed in, of course, various styles of mu‘u mu‘u.

Ige’s Kaua‘i liaison, Carrice Gardner, presented the proclamation.

“I have been busy with so many other things, I haven’t been able to do much for Mu‘umu‘u Month,” said Hiramoto, the founder of the first mu‘umu‘u month in 2015. “But Jamilee has done a lot, including planning and coordinating this tour of the Kaua‘i Museum.”

Jimenez said this year’s efforts to celebrate and preserve the mu‘umu‘u have expanded to beyond Kaua‘i, with several events planned on O‘ahu by O‘ahu groups, including several gatherings of mu‘umu‘u-wearing women, and even a fashion designer creating a mu‘umu‘u to celebrate Mu‘umu‘u Month.

“I borrowed the camera from my sister so we could get photos,” Jimenez said. “Today I’m supposed to get photos of each of the ladies in their mu‘umu‘u on the Kaua‘i Museum tour.”

The mu‘umu‘u was introduced by Hawai‘i in the 19th century, patterned after dresses worn by Protestant missionaries in the 1820s.

To complement Hawai‘i’s warm, tropical climate, the garment was modified into a more-comfortable and loose form.

Over the years, the mu‘umu‘u has undergone many adaptations, and influenced fashion designs around the world, widely recognized as part of fashion history that originated in Hawai‘i and traditionally worn on Aloha Fridays, or at special events.

“Perhaps, we can have a potluck lunch at Koke‘e, a Mu‘u at the Meadow, event,” Hiramoto pondered. “All these women in mu‘umu‘u gathering for a nice lunch with mu‘umu‘u all over the meadow in Koke‘e? That would be something different.”

According to the governor’s proclamation, modern women continue to enjoy wearing these classic island dresses for their comfort, ease and traditional beauty, and a movement has started amongst mu‘umu‘u enthusiasts who celebrate these vintage garments as part of Hawai‘i’s culture and unique fashion identity.

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Dennis Fujimoto, staff writer and photographer, can be reached at 245-0453 or dfujimoto@thegardenisland.com.

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