OluKai brings aloha spirit to Irvine Spectrum Center

Step inside OluKai at Irvine Spectrum Center and you might feel like you’ve walked into a palm-thatched canoe hale (house) on a Hawaiian beach.

Step inside OluKai at Irvine Spectrum Center and you might feel like you’ve walked into a palm-thatched canoe hale (house) on a Hawaiian beach.

“We’ve created an immersive experience that transforms shopping into a narrative journey,” says company vice president Kerry Konrady.

That journey combines the aloha spirit of Hawaii with a premium sandal founded on the “wet sand principle.”

“We mimic the feeling of your bare feet in wet sand,” Konrady says. “Almost every consumer says OluKais are ‘the most comfortable sandals I have worn.’ ”

OluKai introduced this unique concept in 2005 when it was founded in Irvine. For the past 19 years, you could only purchase the sandals in Hawaii or at specialty retailers such as Tommy Bahama, Nordstrom or online.

Now you can find them at OluKai’s first mainland storefront – at Irvine Spectrum Center.

“We’re proud to call Irvine home,” Konrady says. “The Irvine Spectrum Center has been extremely supportive of our desire to curate a unique shopping experience. We feel it’s a true partnership.”

Innovating the flip-flop

Flip-flops have been around over 4,000 years, since the Egyptians made them from palm fronds and papyrus. But they did not become popular in the U.S. until American soldiers fighting in World War II brought them back from Japan.

By 2005, flip-flops rivaled sneakers in sales, which gave OluKai co-founder Bill Worthington a lightbulb moment: Why not create a premium leather sandal that was comfortable, yet dressy enough to wear from the beach to a restaurant?

His unique creation, with an anatomically designed foot-bed to provide comfort and support, launched a new era in sandal-making.

New Irvine store

Today OluKai makes sandals, shoes, boots and more.

And its new Irvine store – just 3 miles from OluKai’s headquarters – serves as a perfect launching pad for new products, specials and events that OluKai plans to hold regularly there.

“The response has been incredibly positive,” Konrady says. “You can feel the aloha spirit there.”