Elevated Aloha Wear

Elevated Aloha Wear

DeWilde Collective

Founder, Kylie DeWilde

Aloha wear is one of the most common forms of attire in Hawaii. It's almost required to own an Aloha shirt or muumuu dress and it is typically worn in more formal occasions. There are thousands of different prints and brands that sell Aloha wear. Kylie takes Aloha wear and vintage to another level with her company; DeWilde Collective. Using all vintage Aloha wear, she repurposes them into cute casual tops and sets for women and children. 

Tell us a little bit about yourself and how you started DeWilde Collective.

I started up-cycling after I had my son when I lived in California, and I needed to find a way to make money without having to leave him. I didn't want to live the 9 to 5 lifestyle so I started getting into thrifting. At that moment I didn't have any knowledge of sustainable fashion. I had a Poshmark account and sold items on that platform to make a little extra money. There was an item that ignited a spark, and it was a Free People sweater that I bought for $4. I thought to myself that I could probably resell it for more at $20 to make a little profit. What I soon discovered is that there is a whole community who does this for a living. I started to gain a big amount of Poshmark followers and continued to do this for 3 years. My income from reselling eventually became bigger than my normal medical transcription job. Through this community and social media, I was able to do research about buying secondhand and how the fast fashion industry was detrimental to the environment. From there I thought about how I could grow and where I could take this business. I decided to start my own fashion label. With so many amazing manufacturers based in California, my sustainable company dreams could come true. But with that, comes a heavy startup cost, and I became discouraged. It wasn't until I caught Covid that DeWilde Collective came to be.

How did Covid affect your business?

When I tested positive for Covid-19, I couldn't go thrifting and resell new items, so I thought to myself, "What if tried to make shorts?" I had a sewing machine that didn't touch for 17 years, so I finally brought it out of the dust. I roughly traced the pattern of existing shorts that I liked the fit of, and made my first pair of shorts out of an old Aloha shirt. I sewed for 3 days straight, and made about 10 pairs of shorts. As soon as I got over having Covid, I ran straight to the thrift stores and went for as many Aloha shirts as I could find. I'm talking a cart full of it. I will never forget the faces I got at the checkout station.

How is business running for you now?

Since DeWilde Collective is a Covid-born business, we were solely online in the beginning. Since moving back home to Hawaii, and with Covid regulations easing up, I've been able to sell my creations at markets and build relationships with customers. Most items usually sell out which is super awesome.

Do you have any goals or plans for this year?

I'd like to sell more at pop-up markets and revamp my website to have more of a look-book feel with occasional online drops. With Covid, it seems that there has been a surge of outdoor markets and people supporting small businesses, which has been really great and it's become a weekly thing for many people. 

Where can we find DeWilde Collective?

You can find us on Instagram @dewildecollective or online at dewildecollective.com

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