Two Honolulu Fashion Designers Talk Feminism and Fashion
Local women are strong and have no problem owning the F-word (feminist, of course). A few of Honolulu’s fashion designers are giving gals an opportunity to bear their beliefs in a trendy way. We find out what, and who, motivates them.
Photo: Aaron K. Yoshino
Designed by Lauren Caldiero, Mary Pat Lee, Race Skelton
HONOLULU Magazine: When and why did you start Wa‘ahia?
Lauren Caldiero: To be honest we created Wa‘ahia for ourselves. As Native Hawaiians working for other companies we spent years creating things for other people. Wa‘ahia was a way for us to make things we wanted to see made. Now when we see women wearing our shirts from here to New York and Japan, we couldn’t be more proud.
HM: What inspired you to create your latest collection of tees?
Mary Pat Lee: Our Future is Wahine tee is our take on the feminist slogan, “The Future is Female.” While we identify with the feminist agenda to empower women and fight for equality, it’s also important to remember that women are diverse. So when we say that the future is wahine, we also mean that the future is indigenous.
HM: What about your Wāhine Support Wāhine tee?
MPL: It’s a message of sisterhood and a mantra we try to live by in our personal lives as well as our business lives.
HM: Race, being a man, why is it important for you to support women?
Race Skelton: Supporting my wife at the Women’s March in January 2017 stirred thoughts about my upbringing. Unfortunately my father passed away when I was 4, and I was raised by my tūtū, mother and older sister (and later my stepfather). My mother and tūtū worked as administrative assistants in Honolulu all while juggling kids, family responsibilities and more. I thought about the sacrifices they made for me and the limits put on their careers by society at those times. I felt inspired and continue to feel motivated by them in everything I do.
Designed by Shaiyanne Dar
Honolulu Magazine: What inspired you to create your latest collection of Wahine tees?
Shaiyanne Dar: The mission and vision of the Women’s Fund of Hawai‘i. Every item sold gives back to this nonprofit that focuses on improving the lives of girls and women statewide.
HM: What does it mean to you to be a woman in the 21st century?
SD: Being a woman in this day and age means not being afraid to speak. It means fighting for what I believe, achieving my goals by working hard, exercising my right to vote and collaborating with my fellow sisters to lift one another and grow.
HM: What women (past and present) do you look up to?
SD: My mom, Marivic Dar. She immigrated to this country from the Philippines and has since made her mark as one of the most respected women in business here in Hawai‘i while staying true to her culture. I am so proud to be her daughter.
HM: What’s your latest I-am-woman-hear-me-roar moment?
SD: The evening I launched our Wahine collection, we sold out of our Monstera Green Wahine tee. I was getting so many messages from my followers filled with words of encouragement and love. I felt empowered knowing that I was able to have such a positive connection and impact with women through my brand.