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Artist Spotlight: Nola Dawg Hawaiian Shirts Mix The Aloha Spirit and NOLA Vibe

by Little Miss Muffin Staff 09 Jun 2023

nola dawg

Blending New Orleans themes and inspired patterns with the classic, timeless Hawaiian shirt style, Aloha shirts from Nola Dawg remind us to relax and enjoy ourselves while turning heads with quality fashion pieces.

Hawaii and New Orleans, two vacation hotspots known for their diverse, melting pot cultures, comingle their bright personalities within Nola Dawg's fashion line — where "The Aloha Spirit" meets the "NOLA Vibe" with the unique flair of New Orleans and its artists.

"I like kind of loud shirts or shirts that just have character to them, and when I came across my first real authentic-style Hawaiian shirt with the rayon, coconut buttons, and a really good design, it left an impression on me," said Chris Bijan Hatamian, co-founder of Nola Dawg. "And immediately I thought, 'Man, that'd be cool if there were New Orleans designs in this style.'"

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nola dawg pineapple aloha shirt

And so Chris and co-founder Douglas L Dillon began turning this fashion idea into the reality of a business, with the subtle art of balancing fun and funky fashion concepts with the practical considerations of supply chains, production, and market demands.

"When you're trying to design clothing, you know what you like as far as a designer, and it's tough because you never know if your style is universally liked," said Chris.

"But I do know that I like Hawaiian shirts. Doug knows that he likes Hawaiian shirts. And then other people started saying, 'Hey, what is this about you making Hawaiian shirts?'" Chris continued. "It's like, the shirts can be universally accepted, and then the hard part is making the design that everybody likes." 

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In addition to being an avenue of self-expression and personal creativity, fashion choices can also be a portal of memories to past experiences buying and wearing that piece of clothing.

Like the food, music, and spirit of both Hawaii and New Orleans, the iconic shirts from Nola Dawg can achieve this same effect for locals and tourists alike.

"People go to Hawaii, get their shirt, and go back home with it. And then later on they'll open the closet, look at their Hawaiian shirt, and it's like they're instantly transported to their time back in Hawaii," said Chris.

"I feel like the same thing can happen with what we've got at Nola Dawg," Chris continued. "They come in to town, they'll go into Little Miss Muffin and buy one of our shirts. And then they go back home and later open their closet, and they see their Nola Dawg shirt with all the oysters and shrimp, and they can be instantly transported to that time they spent in New Orleans."

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With three years of New Orleans-style Hawaiian shirt-making in the books, the Nola Dawg duo has now begun experimenting with different patterns as well as different sizes, cuts, and styles.

Taking the bright, eye-catching patterns their known and loved for, the brand continues to expand into trying out different types of clothing, from children's sizes and women's summer dresses to accessories like men's ties, fanny packs, and beyond.

"It's all about taking that risk, right? Balancing risk with reward," said Chris. "For some of the designs we're like, 'Oh, this is gonna be perfect. We're going to order this many,' and then they're not picked up that much. And then sometimes, you know, we may not even order enough, and then people who are buying them say, 'Well, why didn't you order more?' So it's very difficult to predict, but also, we're learning a lot." 

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nola dawg oyster bow tie
nola dawg oyster neck tie

The silk ties in particular have been a popular product for Nola Dawg as they extend their patterns beyond Hawaiian shirts, another way to bring the vibrant vibe of New Orleans into more settings, both formal and casual.

"Especially in New Orleans, because it's so hot and humid all the time, whenever we have these fancy events, or even go to work — and this kind of plays into that whole Hawaiian culture — we don't really want to actually go through the whole full dress with a suit and tie and all that," said Chris.

"You want to wear something that's respectable but yet, you know, something that can help you beat the heat, and that's kind of another way that the Aloha shirts came about," Chris continued. "But then it also got into the whole ties aspect where it's like, 'I'm gonna wear that New Orleans vibe to a formal event.'"

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With their collection of Aloha shirts and ties available at Little Miss Muffin and other vendors throughout the city, Nola Dawg continues to find ways to help people express their love of New Orleans through unique fashion pieces wherever they're at.

"And when we go to the Jazz Fest, and see ten oyster shirts walking around, and you realize — that's our shirts," said Doug. "It's a good feeling, it really is."

View more from Nola Dawg

 Nola Dawg cofounders


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