Reconsider The Hawaiian Shirt With This 'Spring Breakers'-Esque Line
We’ve all seen the video. A beautiful double rainbow stretches out over an expanse of wilderness. A man’s voice suddenly screams. “Ah!” he yelps. “It’s so bright and vivid! Ah! Ah! Woooooah!” One might think that, in 2016, “Double Rainbow” has been firmly played out, a relic of the early YouTube age, but upon revisiting it for this article, I gotta say that that thing holds up. Double rainbows are beautiful! So beautiful! You go, Yosemitebear62.
But if things go well for a charming new brand out of Australia, the “Double Rainbow” video, or even actual double rainbows, may not be the first things one associates with the phrase itself. Double Rainbouu (pronounced “rainbow,” but spelled differently to keep it fresh), founded just this January, is an adorable resortwear brand, focusing on that classic tacky dad staple: Hawaiian shirts.
The line, which will be available next week at Opening Ceremony, takes the garment and runs with it, creating airy, sun-drenched shirts that make you die for a vacation. The prints are more sophisticated than your standard suburban varietal, harkening back to both ‘50s, Elvis-style wares, and actual Hawaiian garments, which were traditionally made from Japanese silk.
Double Rainbouu was founded by Toby Jones and Mikey Nolan, both former higher-ups at Ksubi—Jones served as Artistic Director, Nolan as Creative Director. They recently held their first-ever presentation at Australian Fashion Week, featuring new garments created in collaboration with British designer Richard Nicoll. Nolan gave us a call from beautiful Sydney to talk about the new collection, “Xanax Holidays,” and Spring Breakers.
So you guys just officially launched this year, right?
We launched in Australia in mid-January. It was a weird time [to] launch, but we only thought of the idea in November of last year, and we knew that we wanted to get the idea out there, and just have fun. And we knew that the brand was about the summer, so we wanted to launch then.
Did you read up on the history of the Hawaiian shirt?
I do know that they just started making shirts out of Japanese silks with Japanese prints on them, and that’s how it started in Hawaii, and then they evolved into prints inspired by the islands and the Hawaiian lifestyle. And eventually they ended up on rayon. We chose rayon because that’s what Hawaiian shirts always looked like when we were growing up—to us that was traditional, even though it’s not technically. We liked the way it feels and moves, that easy breezy holiday feel. But we recently changed the fabric to viscose, which is very similar.
How did you come up with the idea?
Toby and I worked together as graphic designers—well, we ended up as Creative Director and Artistic Director at Ksubi. Our backgrounds [are in] graphic design, and we’ve done textile design for years. And we were just trying to think of a concept for a little brand, a small fun brand, where we could have fun with print design. And we were shopping in the markets in Bangkok one day and just buying all these Hawaiian shirts, and we thought, oh this is kind of random, but kind of fun. We thought we’d start with Hawaiian shirts as a funny little niche to get into, and then eventually expand into a beach and resort brand.
“We just thought there was a little gap for a beach and resortwear [brand] that was a little bit more interesting and relevant.”
We kind of looked around the market, and we thought that a lot of the brands that just do resortwear and beachwear are either really aspirational and trying to look European, or they’re just kind of poxy and ugly, so we just thought there was a little gap for a beach and resortwear [brand] that was a little bit more interesting and relevant. We wanted to play in the fashion and pop culture worlds, and we also wanted the brand to be accessible. The shirts are not particularly expensive.
I love the poem on the homepage of your website. Could you tell me a little bit about that?
Originally, we were doing t-shirts as well, and we were just trying to do a lot of double words that had positive and negative connotations about summer and the brand. So we were kind of coming up with these little two-word t-shirt slogans, like “Xanax Holiday,” where “Xanax” would be in front and “Holiday” would be on the back. “Leisure Industry” was one of our favorites. The other thing we realized is that there aren’t really any resortwear brands that just have a bit of fun and are a bit subversive and a little bit punk. So we just took all these [phrases] and we threw them all into some kind of narrative. My idea is to keep building that into the world’s longest poem, with pop culture references and references to holidays and all that kind of stuff.
What do you think that says about the brand?
[It shows] that we’re a little subversive, and having fun, and not taking ourselves too seriously, and that we’re not aspirational in the way that some other brands might be. And we have little pop culture references in there, like “Blonde Ambition.” I think it builds up a bit of the DNA of where we pull our inspiration from in pop culture and where the brand fits in the world. It probably means a lot more than I initially thought. [Laughs] And as it grows and evolves into the Magna Carta of the brand, it’ll be even more comprehensive.
To be honest, this all really makes me think of Spring Breakers, which I really loved. I actually saw it twice at the cinema.
Me too! Could you tell me about your collaboration with Richard Niccoll?
Richard has actually been a mate of mine for many years. I met him when I was working at Ksubi. We hung out in London, and then when I was working for Ksubi we kept going back and forth, doing small collaborations with denim and eyewear over the years. And then he recently spent the whole summer back in Australia. He was looking to do new, smaller projects, and he loved our concept. He was like, “We should do a presentation for fashion week.”
We did have five new prints coming in for the shirts and unisex swim shorts, and we had also been talking about how we wanted to evolve the brand—just [making] floppy, relaxed, baggy basics that we wanted to do. And he said, “Let’s work on it together, and I’ll get it done in England.” So that’s what we used for the prints in the presentation.
We want to keep it tight, but we do want to slowly expand the collection as well. We love the hats that we did in the lookbook, they’re getting a really good response. We’re also talking to a couple of key retailers who are interested in producing capsules, so fingers crossed we can make that happen and produce a whole capsule.
How did the name come about? Was it from the YouTube video?
Yeah, everyone’s seen that video. The original working name was The Permanent Holiday Objective, which was kind of serious and long. It summed up what the brand and the lifestyle we’d create for ourselves would be—just being in a permanent holiday state of mind. [Laughs] But it was definitely too confusing and too long. So we were just sitting in our old office, which had a beautiful view. It was one of those classic stormy afternoons and then the storm cleared and the afternoon sun was shining through, and there was just this massive double rainbow. Everyone was out in the street taking photos, and it was just one of those a-ha moments. No one could ever say anything negative about a double rainbow.
See pics from our shoot with Super Duper Kyle, styled in Double Rainbouu.
Stay tuned to Milk for more from Australian Fashion Week.