When a family member passes away, it’s impossible to keep everything they owned. Articles of clothing are among the first to be donated.
Most of these items are never seen again by the family. Where they go and who wears them is a mystery, but it’s hoped that clothes will at least be useful to someone else.
Kauai, Hawaii, resident Shannon Hiramoto is always on the prowl for a new muumuu. Her best finds have come from thrift stores, where the clothes are exclusively second-hand, and almost always donated.
“I’m always hunting for muumuu, vintage ones. That’s like my hobby,” Hiramoto told KHON 2.
While at the thrift store, Shannon Hiramoto came across a brightly colored muumuu to add to her collection.
One of the most beautiful things I love about the mu'umu'u is how theyre a relic of Hawaii's booming fashion and manufacturing sector. Its inspiring to look at all the tags and all the brands that existed. On top of that there are a ton of homemade ones out there–from a time when a big part of one's wardrobe was handmade. So cool! Day 23 of #muumuumonth wearing a mu'u by an unknown seamstress.
The brightly colored pattern and cut of the dress caught her eye. The hues of pink and purple seemed familiar to her, as if she’d seen it before, but she couldn’t put her finger on precisely where.
“I saw this beautiful muumuu right here, and I’m like, ooh, a mini one, because, you know, it’s always fun finding a shorter one,” Hiramoto said.
“When I looked at the tag it said Liberty House, then it also had handwritten on it ‘Kamei,’ and it blew my mind, because that’s my great-grandmother’s name, her last name.”
It seemed unlikely it was her great-grandmother’s, but Hiramoto was intrigued.
Hiramoto brought the dress home, put it on, and was overcome with a feeling of familiarity.
“I just knew that she always liked to wear muumuu that had pink or purple or red, and it seemed familiar, in this memory way,” she said.
A search through her family photos proved fruitless. There was no evidence to verify that the garment belonged to her grandmother.
After having combed through countless photo albums, Hiramoto was ready to call it quits. Luckily, her mother wasn’t.
“My mom and I went through all our old photo albums hunting for proof. Alas nothing!” Hiramoto said in a post on her Instagram. “Then I get a text photo from mom the other night—it was hers! The last photo in the last photo album!”
Not only was she able to prove that the dress once belonged to her great-grandmother, but she knew exactly where the photo had been taken—the United Church of Christ in Hanapepe
Wearing the dress her great-grandmother wore years ago, Hiramoto re-created the photo in the exact spot it was originally taken.
A Mu'umu'u Story: A few weeks ago I was thrift store shopping at the new Salvation Army in Lihue and I came across this beautiful mini mu'u. I was shocked when I noticed the Liberty House label and saw the name Kamei written on it. My Great Grandmother's last name was Kamei and she loved mu'u that were pink or purple or red. I was surprised to find this because she passed away 5 yrs ago! Could it be hers? There aren't many Kamei on Kauai. It looked so familiar but I needed proof. (See my archive instastory to see how I felt the day I found this mini mu'u!) My mom and I went through all our old photo albums hunting for proof. Alas nothing! Then I get a text photo from mom the other night–it was hers! The last photo in the last photo album! I immediately knew where this photo was taken. Her church in Hanapepe–where she is actually resting to this day (her ashes are in a cubby back there.) I've come full circle and feel like she is smiling down on me or at least giggling. Florence Shizuko Kamei was born in Kekaha in 1904, one of her legacies is that when she passed she was the oldest person in Hawaii at age 108! When she died they announced it on the radio and news! Her secret? Green tea and hobbies. She loved her church choir, playing ukulele, Japanese dancing, joking around, and eating. My daughter shares her middle name Shizuko which means Quiet Child (neither of them have quiet personalities!) And I'm definitely passing this dress down to her. #heirloomserendipity #thiskauaianlife #winksfromgreatgrandma #smalljoys #muumuuforever #alohafriday #hanapepe
Hiramoto said the experience felt like she was coming “full circle.” Remarkably, her grandmother’s ashes reside in the church where she spent much of her time.
“She loved her church choir, playing ukulele, Japanese dancing, joking around, and eating,” she said of her great-grandmother, who lived to the grand age of 108!
Hiramoto intends to keep the muumuu in the family forever. Her daughter, who shares a middle name with Hiramoto’s great-grandmother, will inherit the dress when she is old enough.
“She passed five years ago, so I have no idea where [the muumuu] had been between that point and now. It’s magic,” Hiramoto told KHON 2 said with a laugh. “I think it’s just her way of telling me I’m on the right track.”