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Editor’s Page: Growing

And celebrating homegrown.


Robbie Dingeman

Working on this December issue provided us the chance to reflect on how much kalo awareness has grown in recent years, from the cultural classrooms of lo‘i (taro terraces) that teach Hawaiian values alongside agricultural practices, to such lighthearted iterations as poi doughnuts, pancakes and the memorable Sweet Lady of Waiāhole kūlolo-haupia concoction.


Woven throughout the stories of cultural practitioners, farmers, entrepreneurs and educators is a thread tracing the path to what feels right, seeking out the authentic. For some, that journey has been longer, with more challenges conquered along the way. Even among those with fewer years in, the common element seems to be perseverance. And those of us who’ve only worked in lo‘i on the occasional volunteer workday can speak to the satisfaction that emerges from the muddy work.


Led by food and dining editor Catherine Toth Fox, our team learned more of the behind-the-scenes stories that have nurtured the growth of kalo in recent years. Although no one article can encompass the myriad facets of this historic and cultural food, we hope that you’ll find the stories as fascinating and occasionally surprising as we did.


We’re also happy to share an insightful account of the lives of some 20,000 picture brides who followed a photo from Japan and Okinawa to the Islands. The stories come from the latest book by remarkable author Barbara Kawakami, who published her first book at age 53. Writer Ashley Mizuo caught up to Kawakami—now 96—in between her latest projects.


While we were finalizing the kalo stories, I also had the opportunity to witness a dramatic event in another local industry we follow closely: “Kini Zamora at The Palace,” the epic fashion show presented by fashion designer Zamora at ‘Iolani Palace. (To see photos from the show, go to bit.ly/hnkinizamora.)


Kini Zamora

Kini Zamora’s fashion show at ‘Iolani Palace.
Photo: David Croxford


The show was impressive for both its dramatic historic backdrop and the dedication of Project Runway star Zamora in working to move Hawai‘i fashion forward. His designs showed off more than 50 looks, full of his trademark style but also riffing on Hawai‘i’s plantation past, with his interpretation of palaka. (On Project Runway, he developed a reputation for his denim work, so palaka made perfect sense to him: “It’s Hawai‘i’s denim,” he said with a smile.) In keeping with his credo of designing clothes for people to wear in the real world, Zamora featured models of many shapes and sizes, not just the pencil-thin folks who regularly appear on runways.


Zamora, who is Native Hawaiian, says he was humbled and honored by the opportunity to stage the show from the front steps of the royal palace out onto the asphalt runway. The event was made possible when Zamora and Friends of ‘Iolani Palace development director Pomai Toledo shared a cab in New York City, both headed to support fashion designer Manaola Yap’s showing at New York Fashion Week. Yap credits the contacts he made at HONOLULU Fashion Week for helping make the jump to the Big Apple.


Zamora shared with us that he broadened his fashion ‘ohana at HONOLULU Fashion Week. Fashion Week is on hiatus, but we are heartened to track the continued growth of the industry, led by the many talented creative people who bring Hawai‘i fashion to life. Included in the palace show was teenage designer Keānuenue DeSoto, a proud graduate of Fashion Week’s Reach the Runway nonprofit, which works to nurture middle school students interested in careers in fashion. Also included were the latest looks from veteran fashion influencer Danene Lunn of Manuheali‘i, as well as Polynesian line Hinano.


We look forward to following the next steps in Hawai‘i fashion.


From all of us at HONOLULU Magazine, Mele Kalikimaka me ka Hau‘oli Makahiki Hou,


Thoughts about the magazine? Please email me at robbied@honolulumagazine.com.




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Honolulu Magazine July 2020
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