Waltah Clarke, or Walter Clark, was a Los Angeles native who moved to Hawaii in 1938. He became fascinated with all aspects of Polynesian life and decided to bring Hawaiian designs to the US mainland. He changed the spelling of his name to Waltah to reflect the way it was pronounced by the Hawaiian people. In 1952, he opened his first store in Palm Springs, California, which featured Hawaiian shirts, swimwear and dresses.
Walter married his wife Gretchen in 1954 and she went on to design many of the prints for the store’s fashions. The company stayed in the mainstream by altering traditional Hawaiian styles into fitted cocktail dresses and current fashion silhouettes.
The company eventually had thirty-one stores in Hawaii, California, Arizona, Florida and Chicago. The last store was sold in 2001. Clarke died in 2002 at the age of 89.
Written by coutureallure.com