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Jams World – Local Hawaiian Fashion Inspiration

What inspires you in fashion?

For Hawaiian fashion brand, Jams World, their inspiration stems from color, freedom, difference, and love – the motto that they create and live by. You can see this in the styles, patterns, and even the impact that this brand has on the community.

Jams World Patterned sets: Taken from Fall 2019 line

As a local fashion magazine, our goal strives to capture and share style in the Hawaiian Islands. Highlighting and promoting brands remains our mission, and we could not be more thrilled to speak with Lei from Jams World and learn more about this brand that inspires us along with many others!

We pay tribute to what KAPA refers to as our 'OG Hawaii Designers' or our Kama'aina Classics.

KAPA will continually pay tribute to those designers who have lived long and prospered through the extremely temperamental industry we know and love as; the Fashion Industry.

Jams World and Iolani Designs, "OG" Hawaii Designers, Kama'aina Clothing Classics

So how did the beloved Jams World get its start?

An intriguing story to say the least, Lei gave us the details of this story to be told from years to come. It all started with a man by the name of Dave Rochlen. Known as a smart guy from California, an engineer, Rochlen was also quite the creative as he dabbled in modeling and movies and in 1949 was featured on the cover of Life magazine. His vacation here in Hawaii led him to meet his wife, Keanuenue Ka'eo. He wanted to move to Hawaii but job-wise wasn’t here at that time, so she moved up there to California. In the 60s, he made enough to come back to Hawaii.

As an avid surfer, Rochlen asked his wife to make shorts for surfing. He had the brilliant idea to take pajamas and cut the printed pajamas into jam shorts – that’s how you get Jams. Using the regular string for the top, it was a very simple yet creative concept. He and his friends used it for surfing, and soon enough it gained traction and people wanted more.

He still went back and forth to California during his time in Hawaii. Rochlen opened a local surfboard shop in ‘64 right outside Ala Moana. The majority of the store focused on surfboards but carried apparel as well. His wife Keanuenue Ka'eo was part of the first women’s surfing team, so she and her family surfed often as well. The apparel in the surf shop began to grow, and over time he created brands named by each of his kids, including Pua and Nohea, his son and daughter. With that, Jams World came about.

As time and fashion changed, Rochlen went into textiles and fabrication, so his apparel changed. But he was an artist, a visionary and a writer. Back then there weren’t marketing departments, editors, etc. so he did everything himself.

Jams World prints are one of a kind art pieces!

Jams World made its name based on developing products, prints and ideas all over the world. When Rochlen names his artwork and people ask about it, he is able to then reveal the background behind the art. Some artists have been with him for a while now!

He is also fondly remembered for his generosity. The family does a lot for the community, but they don’t post it as part of the company. They are always very humble, never wanting to brag. Lei looks back on her first week with the company, laughing at the recollection, “I thought I missed the memo that we’re supposed to bring gifts for Christmas. I walked upstairs and he sent people to stores and there was a whole trail of stuff coming up the stairs.”

Jams World always makes small quantities here in Hawaii. The sewers have been with Rochlen for over 30 years. Many people don’t go to school to become sewers, so production here in the Islands is hard because it’s difficult to find sewers.

When asked who are the favorite greats/classics – especially in terms of the Aloha shirt, Lei discussed with us about a few noteworthy creatives!

“Shahine, he was great with textile. I loved his work. And Dave, his work and art was always known for the colors. Shahine for me was the style. Women’s Aloha-wear - he always had the style. Reyn Spooner is also iconic. There’s no gray, it’s just black and white. Josh’s father was really personable, so he was a good salesman. I think that generation all had a lot to give and a lot to learn from. They were visionaries. You see a lot of them coming back from retirement – I always joke about ‘are you retired or not?’”

Their mission points to color, freedom, difference, love, Lei says, as that is what Dave Rochlen lives by. “He tells us “color makes people happy, it makes people smile. You know all color isn’t for everyone, but majority it makes people happy and makes you look and wonder, so it can inspire.’”

What’s next for Jams World? We’re hopeful for a November popup, but even-so, we can expect to see one of their twice yearly fashion shows at the art museum. They did an event when they launched their spring collection earlier last year and carried it on when they opened the Ala Moana store.

You can also take part in their contests on social media every now and then by showing your Jams art, putting together a Jams outfit, or anything along these creative lines that they have running for the contests they offer at any given time.

Find them at to confirm.

They have a couple of Japanese partners coming in as they build. There will be archival products from each decade, and Japan collaboration will be launching the end of this month.

In terms of face masks, they did a few reverse and a few face out. Fabric comes from and is printed in Japan. Quality is one of the things that’s most important to Rochlen and the company. It comes here in rolls and they cut and sew it together. See Jams World Masks.

A brand that always inspires – we look forward to seeing what Jams World creates next and their continuous impact on local Hawaiian fashion!

Story written by Katlin Tara O'Carroll for KAPA Magazine -

Personal Stylist/Fashion Blogger

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