The mission of the Mu‘umu‘u Library
is to build a sustainable fashion community which promotes the education of women and children through muʻumuʻu.
The Mu‘umu‘u Library is a volunteer-run community closet, workspace, and a program of Pu‘uhonua Society. We hope to create a space for local women to perpetuate Hawaiian fashion by providing the means to create and celebrate mu‘umu‘u.
What will you find at the Mu‘umu‘u Library?
Archive of dresses, sewing patterns, and literature
A special bond was formed between the first American missionary wives and the Aliʻi Wahine how came together to sew holokū. These friendships paved the way for the missionaries to form the Hawaiian alphabet and written language. The Hawaiians' eagerness to learn would lead the Hawaiian kingdom to have the highest literacy rates in the world by the mid-1800's.
In the West, the holokū was known as the Mother Hubbard dress, and was popularized by illustrations in children's literature during the 1880's. Mothers began to dress their little ones in a similar fashion as seen in the nursery rhyme books of Kate Greenaway. These bedtime stories influenced children's fashion and eventually women's fashion as well.
During the late Victorian era American women began to wear the Mother Hubbard dress as a political statement against the use of corsets. Women wore the dress despite criticism from local governments and harassment by men, who claimed the dress resembled bedroom attire. The Mother Hubbard dress liberated women from the restrictive corset and enabled them to do work and activities that were previously uncommon for women.
Over time the Mother Hubbard dress and the women who wore them saw many changes in the world. The women grew in knowledge and skill while the holokū, shortened and made more comfortable, came to be known as a mu‘umu‘u. We hope to honor this piece of fashion history by creating a space for women to come together to sew and celebrate mu'umu'u. In a time when fast fashion has become a societal norm, the Mu'umu'u Library will continue a tradition of a countercultural fashion that is rooted in the education of women.