Having grown up along New Jersey's beach corridor in Tom's River, Ed Fernandez was no stranger to the surf life. After attending college in a landlocked region of his home state, fleeing to Hawaii was a natural progression. Fernandez settled into Hawaii (Big) Island and set up shop as a freelance food safety regulator, until a family vacation redirected his focus — and launched a clothing line that has earned a cult-like following with locals.
In 2007, Fernandez and cousin Brian Jones were on Cape Cod when the pair decided to launch a t-shirt line as a vehicle to get their custom artwork "out there." Fernandez would conceptualize imagery and jot down rough sketches. Jones would then lay on detail work and silkscreen them onto tees made of bamboo or other natural material. Organik was born. The line exploded onto the scene in Honolulu, where Ed had relocated to, with partnerships and vendors as far as Japan and Las Vegas carrying the line.
In 2013, THE MODERN HONOLULU approached Fernandez for a custom line of pocket tees and hats, giving birth to Aloha Sailor, an entirely new line sold exclusively in the hotel's shop. (Fernandez does seasonal pop up shops around Honolulu that may include the Aloha Sailor line, check his website for details.)
"It's funny, my cousin [Brian] was always the sailor, and I was always the surfer of the family," Fernandez shares. "But I recently bought a little 16-foot Prindle catamaran. And as I was learning this entirely new language, it became the perfect inspiration to launch Aloha Sailor, using the terminology in a creative way."
He calls it "Hawaii meets the Hamptons," a blend of New England preppy life with the kick-back casual of the Aloha Spirit. Design elements are heavy on anchors, buoys, nautical folklore and typography. An example is the "M8TE" line of wallets, which are made from utilizing nautical chart maps.
"They are legit charts of the surrounding Hawaiian waters, so that's fun," adds Fernandez.
New imagery and collections are always in the works between Fernandez and Jones — and nothing is off limits. A recent trade show jaunt to Tokyo beckoned Fernandez north to imbibe in some snowboarding in Japan's northern mountain towns surrounding Hokkaido.
"We try and stick to everything Aloha spirited for our lines...but you never know," Fernandez says.