Columns on fashion, culture and ideas

Men's Fashion / Vintage Style

Eddie Aikau

In this column, AnOther takes a retrospective look at the style icons of the past

Eddie Aikau
Eddie Aikau

This month marks AnOther's collaboration with Tommy Hilfiger, coinciding with the launch of the brand's surf shack collection. Highlighting great surfers, we remember Eddie Aikau, the first official lifeguard for the North Shore...

This month marks AnOther's collaboration with Tommy Hilfiger, to celebrate the launch of the brand's Surf Shack collection. Highlighting great surfers, we remember Eddie Aikau, the first official lifeguard for the North Shore of Hawaii. A true legend in his field, during his tenure he made 500 rescues with complete success, being crowned lifeguard of the year in 1971, the same year that he placed 12th in the world surfing rankings. To celebrate his feats of courage and heroism, Hawaiian: The Legend of Eddie Aikau, a documentary film chronicling the life of the late surfer premieres this week.

Aikau’s clothing has become synonymous with surfer style, and is copied the world over. He wore simple printed beach shorts and bright t-shirts, paired with floral garlands, rope necklaces and eccentric headwear atop his trademark unruly hair. Despite being known as quiet and reserved, his influence spread beyond his strength in the waves; onshore he was rarely seen without a guitar, and he played a significant role in the Hawaiian music scene of the 1970s.

"Eddie wore simple printed beach shorts and bright t-shirts with floral garlands and eccentric headwear; rope necklaces, scarves and caps, worn with his trademark unruly hair."

In 1978, a ship that Aikau was travelling on capsized. Putting others before himself, he swam to get help but was tragically never seen again, despite the largest air-sea search in Hawaiian history. In his memory, the phrase “Eddie Would Go” became synonymous with doing the right and most honorable thing; an abbreviation of the idea that he would go where nobody else dared. In 2012, Nashville surf band Blackbear released an EP of the same name in honour of Aikau, and the phrase has become established as a motivational approach to life, not just to surfing. “Eddie had a passion. He had a passion about living and loving the ocean. We have to remember, and we cannot forget, someone who lived this way. Eddie never left people behind. It was his way. It’s a way to surf; it’s a way to live."

Click here for Tommy Hilfiger’s #GoneSurfing competition, for the chance to win a surfing trip to the Maldives.

Text by Mhairi Graham

Mhairi Graham is fashion writer at AnOther and AnOthermag.com. She also writes for The Financial Times and Wallpaper* and came runner-up in the 2011 Vogue Talent Contest.

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