The Pai'ea Projects + Fitted “Miloli'i 'Ōpelu Project” pays homage to our creative director’s home away from home: The last Hawaiian fishing village. According to Paul Kema, going to Milolii is like traveling back in time. From the moment you hit the 89th mile marker and slowly descend the windy road to the village you are instantly taken back to an older Hawaii. Lacking the distractions of city life, the absence of electricity and running water, life is simple there. People hold strong to the cultural values and knowledge passed down through generations. It is the last Hawaiian fishing village. The ocean is their ice box and remains their kuleana to preserve, protect and mālama it for future generations.
As a city boy growing up on O'ahu, Paul Kema would hear his dad talk about Miloli'i often, telling stories of how his father and eldest brother would spend summers fishing down at Omoka'a. As the twin of the youngest brother, Paul’s pops rarely got to Miloli'i, but would always look forward to the five gallon tins of dried 'ōpelu (mackerel scad) grandpa would bring home.
John Ana Puako Kema was born 1899 in Ho'opuloa, a nearby fishing village, but moved to Miloli'i with the rest of the family following the 1926 lava flow that covered the area. Grandpa spent most of his adolescent life there before later moving to O'ahu. His sister Nancy remained and married into the Apo family. Grandpa would always return to spend time with her and the rest of the 'ohana who still call Miloli'i home today. Generations have passed since then and now uncle Sam Grace is entrusted with taking care of Omoka'a. Paul and the Fitted Fam have spent many weekends camping there with Uncle Sam and remain grateful to spend time in the same waters the Kema 'ohana has enjoyed for generations.
Pa'a Pono Miloli'i is a non-profit community project dedicated to improving the quality of life of the residents of Miloli'i. Through K-12 youth education in fishing practices and cultural traditions they continue to make a difference in protecting their unique way of life. One of their various community efforts is the “'Ōpelu Project,” which utilizes innovative fishing methods that blend science, ocean knowledge, fish lifecycle patterns and traditional Hawaiian techniques. Inspired by the efforts of Pa'a Pono Miloli'i, Pai'ea Projects and Fitted are honoring the “'Ōpelu Project” with this collection. As they strive to strengthen the community’s stewardship of their critical marine and coastal resources we pay homage to their perpetuation of the Hawaiian culture with the "Miloli'i 'Ōpelu Project" collection. Our goal is to share their vision and give back to support their cause.
Proceeds of the "Miloli'i 'Ōpelu Project" will benefit Pa'a Pono Miloli'i and their educational initiatives. This limited-edition, three-piece collection is anchored by "The Camo Mackerel" neoprene New Era snapback and accentuated with "The Scad" tank and "The Last Village" tee. The "Miloli'i 'Ōpelu Project" launches on Saturday, February 4 on paieaprojects.com, fittedhawaii.com and at the Fitted shop on Kona Street.