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Galoha: Hawaiian shirts for the Way

There are Ways that seem destined to cross. This is the case of Galiwonders and Galoha, who besides sharing initial, share inspiration, objectives and values. It was during this atypical hot summer when our first meeting happened. We were struck, as any fan of Hawaiian shirts, by their colorful designs, their quality fabric and the fact that they seem to be composed to make the most of our Galician landscapes.

That’s why we decided to delve into the history behind these curious shirts with exotic origins and local production. We wanted to know everything about the process behind the creative minds of Berti and Helena. Today we bring you the product of our conversation with them, with the aim also to let you know about their most Jacobean designs.

Why Hawaiian shirts?

We believe that the character of the authentic Hawaiian shirt helps to go through life with more joy, confidence and pride to pursue dreams and live life to the fullest, something that for us, as founders of the brand, seems fundamental and necessary. With Galoha we want to make it possible for more people to enjoy the energy, identity and style of the authentic Hawaiian shirt and to offer another elegant and cheerful alternative to casual and formal clothing. In addition, Galicia and the rest of Spain have the culture, climate and fashion conditions for this product to be well received.

Why is it important that they were inspired by Galicia?

Some of the pillars of the authentic Hawaiian shirt are just that, that it has authenticity, that it has identity, that it tells a story and that it is made in the place of origin of the motifs. One of the co-founders of Galoha is Galician and Galicia has a rich natural, cultural, seafaring and surfing heritage, some of the themes of the Hawaiian prints.

How did the idea come about, how long did it take you to put it into practice, and what obstacles did you encounter along the way?

During a trip to Japan in 2018 we got to know the ‘kariyushi’ shirt, which comes to be the Hawaiian shirt from Okinawa, Japan. At that time the business idea of importing shirts from different areas of the world to Spain arose, although the idea evolved to focus on the Hawaiian shirt from a local interpretation and manufacture. As one of us is Galician, and Galicia has a rich heritage and identity facing the sea and also inland, we saw that we had the conditions to create a shirt of this style.

The idea came up in 2018 but we did not decide to implement it until 2021. In 2018 we were facing professional commitments and only explored the idea at the level of some print designs that were liked among family and friends. At the beginning of 2021, in another professional moment, the opportunity arises for both of us to invest more time and effort to explore this idea. We have experience in project management and one of us in online and international commerce. In a matter of 5 months the brand was produced and launched with a first test collection with 5 designs.

The main obstacles we have encountered are to find a national quality manufacture and to enter points of sale being a very small and newborn brand.

How has the reception been locally, have you taken the step to the international market and if so, how has the experience been?

The local reception has been very positive, both for the designs and the brand. We are not yet proactively marketing to the international market, but there are orders from abroad. Galoha are in all five continents.

Why is it a key element that your shirts are produced locally and sustainably?

We love our land, Spain, and we also love the Earth. We want to help preserve the local market and the environment. Both are fundamental pillars for a fulfilling life. We understand that today’s products must be sustainable in order to preserve the environment around us. With GOT certified organic cotton we are committed to lower water consumption in the production of cotton, respect and improvement of working conditions for workers, and that both the cotton and the dyeing process do not use materials or dyes that are harmful to the skin and the environment (OEKO-TEX).

We believe that newly created products already have to be sustainable in order to preserve our environment, in the broadest sense of the word. Our prints represent tradition, which can disappear if they are not preserved.

What was your inspiration for the St. James’ Way models?

For 2022 we were determined to make designs of the Way of St. James since, in addition to being one of Galicia’s cultural and international icons, it was Xacobean Year. The Way of St. James has a universe of stories and motifs, so we don’t remember something specific that inspired us. What does happen with our inspiration is that each Galoha shirt has two main sources of inspiration: a style of print from around the world, and the character of the Galicia theme we want to address. And we try to match one with the other, that is, to identify which world print style is more relevant to tell the Galician motifs, and vice versa, which Galician motifs are more relevant to recreate a world print style.

What symbols of the Way are present on your shirts?

Some of the different ways there are and scenes of pilgrims walking or resting on these paths. Obviously well known symbols such as the scallop shell, the cairn, the Cross of Santiago, the staff, the pumpkin, the cross, the yellow arrow, the Apostle, … Also motifs that only occur in certain places such as the hórreo in Galicia or bridges like the Romanesque bridge of Puente la Reina in Navarra.

On the other hand, we include elements of the flora that are perhaps less known, such as the jacobaea vulgaris, the pilgrim’s grass, as well as ears of wheat, which occur a lot on the French Way and on the Via da Prata, and also vines and bunches of grapes, which tell the story of the close and historical relationship between wine and the Way of St. James.

Why is it an item that every lover of the Way should have in their closet?

It captures the essence of something they love in a special way: cheerful, different, wearable, quality, and inviting to tell a story. People love stories. Every Galoha tells one.

What other elements of Galicia, besides the Way, can we see reflected in your shirts?

The Galoha are inspired by elements of Galicia’s nature, culture and seafaring tradition. From the beaches, the toxo, the camellia, the carballo, the spider crab… to the batea and traditional boats.

What do people who are interested in the brand usually ask you?

How did the idea come up, if they are made in Spain…

Which model is the most popular and which has been the most distant/curious shipment you have made?

The most popular models are Xouba, Dorna, Batea, Velas and Percebe. The furthest shipments are Melbourne, Australia and Tokyo, Japan. We once received a photo of a boy from Ghana, Africa, wearing the Dorna shirt, given to him by his girlfriend.

Any anecdote from this summer touring markets in Galicia with Galoha?

It is very nice to see how people leave the points of sale with them on, or that people who bought them at another time come to greet us with them on.

Also, the markets have been the point of origin of collaborations with other brands, as in this case, with Galiwonders, whose CEO discovered the brand in a market and bought a ‘Camiños‘ shirt.

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