Leave it to a guy from Ontario to visit British Columbia only to buy a vintage shirt that came from Fiji. Yup, I get around!
Not much can be found about the company Kai-VeiKau nowadays, and it seems that the company is no longer in business. At least it doesn’t have a significant Internet presence if it is. However, the company name seems to be lifted from the House of Chiefs in Fiji consisting of the Fijian nobility, composed of about seventy chiefs of various ranks, the majority of which are related.
This shirt likely comes from the 1960s or 1970s if the man I bought it from is any indication. He was older and had a wide range of such shirts that he had personally collected as he travelled the world.
Ever since I visited Walt Disney World and experienced the Enchanted Tiki Room for the first time, I’ve been hooked on Hawaiian music and design. The more vintage and authentic the better!
As I browsed through the rack of shirts the aforementioned man was selling, I noticed a similarity between Hawaiian and Fiji patterns and themes.
Hawaii is located in the Pacific Ocean about 2,000 miles (3,200 km) from the U.S. mainland. It is comprised of nearly the entire Hawaiian archipelago which includes 137 volcanic islands spanning 1,500 miles (2,400 km) that are basically part of the Polynesian sub region of Oceania.
Fiji is is an island country in Melanesia, part of Oceania in the South Pacific Ocean. It lies about 1,300 miles (2,000 km) northeast of New Zealand. Fiji consists of an archipelago of more than 330 islands and more than 500 islets.
So although these two places have similar topography and a connection via the Pacific Ocean, they are totally different places and about 3,100 miles (5,000 km) apart. So we better not call this a Hawaiian Shirt!
The waters of Fiji boast five of the seven living species of sea turtles: Green, Hawksbill, Leatherback, Loggerhead, and Olive Ridley. The first two, the Green Turtle and the Hawksbill Turtle, are more commonly sighted. So this would explain the turtle motif of this shirt. Especially the Green Turtle, as the image of the turtle on the shirt is a stylized version of it, and the colour is a definite clue!
So my hunt for a vintage and authentic Hawaiian shirt will just have to continue! But in the meantime, I’ll be stylin’ with my Fiji counterpart.
FUN FACTS: Staying with the green theme, the Fijian name for the Green Turtle is Vonu Dina.