Posted at 12:15 p.m., Tuesday, April 22, 2003
Clothing entrepreneur David Rochlen dead at 78
By Mike Gordon
Advertiser Staff Writer
Rochlen, founder of one of the oldest aloha shirt labels in the Islands, Surf Line Hawaii and Jams World, died April 13. He was 78.
"He was fun-loving, passionate about life and work and art," said Pua Rochlen, the youngest of his five children. "He was attracted to people and stories and ideas."
His family described him as a Renaissance man: a designer, avid motorcycle enthusiast, talented waterman and "sometimes eccentric philosopher."
Rochlen was born in California, the son of a Russian-born journalist and a nurse from New England, and grew up enjoying the beach lifestyle. He was an avid bodysurfer who went on to become a Santa Monica lifeguard.
During World War II, he served in the Marines. He later received a degree in clinical and industrial psychology from the University of California, Los Angeles.
On one of his many visits to Hawai'i in the late 1940s and early '50s, he met his future wife, Keanuenue. The couple did not permanently move to Hawai'i until the early '60s.
Soon afterward, Rochlen opened his surfboard store, Surf Line Hawai'i, across from Ala Moana Shopping Center.
Because Rochlen could not find clothing he thought was colorful and unique, he started his Jams line of surfwear. They were patterned after cut-off pajama bottoms and were inspired by the clothing worn by Russians in Black Sea resorts. When surfers began wearing them, their popularity took off.
Over the years, the surf shop and clothing line evolved into Jams World, a resort-wear style of clothing that continued to reflect Rochlen's philosophy.
"It had to do with truth and beauty," said Pua Rochlen, now president of Jams World. "He wanted people to understand the difference between good and great. It wasn't what you paid for it, it was what you got out of it."
Visitation begins at 9 a.m. tomorrow at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel with services starting at 10 a.m. Rochlen's ashes will be scattered about 11:30 a.m. near the Castles and Old Mans surf breaks offshore from the Natatorium in Waikiki.