Preserving Local Culture One T-shirt at a Time: Desteenation's New Store Works to Save Hawaiian Heritage

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With the likes of Costco and Walmart moving into the Hawaiian market, independent businesses are struggling to stay afloat and much of Hawaii's rich local flavor is being lost. Through the sale of authentic t-shirts with logos from diverse island establishments, Desteenation Shirt Co.'s new t-shirt shop is highlighting Hawaii's rich heritage in an attempt to preserve local business and culture. Each of these cool t-shirts is displayed with a written profile, detailing the place the t-shirt represents, and every member business gets a percentage of their t-shirt's sales. Local business gets a boost, while residents and tourists alike enjoy learning about and advertising for the local establishments that define Hawaiian culture.

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The Big Island's culture is now being preserved in a very unique way: on people's chests. Desteenation Shirt Co. highlights Hawaii's rich heritage by selling cool t-shirts with logos from diverse island establishments. While it's t-shirts they are selling, it's the local culture that Desteenation is trying to preserve. In their new shop at the Kona Inn Shopping Village, every local t-shirt is sold with a written profile, allowing tourists to learn more about each of the unique businesses they represent. To top it off, Desteenation shares the profits with its member businesses.

Real Shirts. Real Places.
"With more and more tourists doing their shopping at Wal-mart and Costco, Desteenation's focus on preserving Hawaii's culture and promoting local businesses is an inspiration," says Frank Carpenter owner of Kona Boys.

What started as a Seattle store and website has now, with the addition of the new Kona retail location, become a West Coast phenomenon. Desteenation currently sells authentic t-shirts from over 160 locally-owned establishments in Washington, California, Arizona and Hawaii to customers from all over the world via their website and retail locations in Seattle and Kona. Featuring businesses like Teshima's Restaurant, Kimura's Fabrics, The Kona Inn, several local charter boats, and even the by-gone Yama's Fishing Supply Co., Desteenation is putting local pride front and center, on the chests of both tourists and locals alike.

"Stockpiling local t-shirts has been my hobby since I was a kid, though admittedly, I never thought about why way back then," says Desteenation founder Matt Morgan. 'Returning to Kona, where I grew up, has brought my attention to the way corporate branding has affected the Big Island, often stealing the focus away from the independent businesses that have historically defined our rich, local culture. So now more than ever, I appreciate wearing cool t-shirts that show support for the locally-owned businesses I want to patronize. I never got into the fake logo shirts. I figure, why not keep it real?"

If you have any questions or would like photos or interviews, please contact Matt Morgan directly at 808-557-1484 and check out our website at


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