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Best of Honolulu 2020: The Best Shopping on O‘ahu

The 22 editorial and reader picks for the chic-est shopping in the city.


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best of honolulu shopping

 

Best Local Soft Tees

best of honolulu shopping

photo: courtesy of Dolkii

 

Dolkii tees may not be fancy-schmancy, but they feel like a bajillion bucks. The buttery texture of the cotton-modal blend is like silk against your skin. “The softness of our tees comes from our unique production process and the way we create each tee. There are added steps we include during the wash and dye process that give our tees a soft hand,” says owner Shaiyanne Dar. Whatever snuggly secret spells they’re casting, they’re working. We’ve worn them under a stiff work blazer, knotted-up and paired with a flowy skirt, and in the past month, we’ve had more tee time in the comfort of our own homes. —Stacey Makiya

dolkii.com, @dolkii


 

Best Local Beeswax Wrap

best of honolulu shopping

Photo: courtesy meli wraps

 

If you’re looking to kick single-use plastics to the curb, Meli Wraps has you (and your meals) covered. Dreamt up by two Kaua‘i moms, the eco-chic label uses Big Island Bees organic beeswax, tree resin, plant oils and organic cotton to make reusable, washable wraps that last a whole year. Use them as lids, fold them into pouches for snacks, or wrap up veggies and fruit (we’re looking at you, half avocado). The warmth from your hands softens the wax, making the self-sticking sheets easy to mold. We especially love that the brand taps local artists to create its Hawai‘i-inspired patterns—keep an eye out for an ocean-themed collection next, along with a new roll-style sheet that you can cut to size yourself. —Brie Thalmann

meliwraps.com, @meliwraps


 

Best Place to Find Your Next Great Read

best of honolulu shopping

photo: Brie Thalmann

 

Sometimes, it feels like da Shop knows us better than our therapist: Browsing its shelves taps into our yearnings to be seen and to escape, to be comforted and to be challenged. Its selection isn’t vast, and yet we find books that we’d been wanting to read and books that we hadn’t, but suddenly must. The 2-year-old shop draws on Bess Press’ publishing legacy to select books that resonate with the Honolulu community. “The unique perspective that we have is that our family has been around for 41 years in the publishing industry, and our program has long been influenced by people in the community—talking story with what they would like and want,” says David DeLuca, owner of da Shop and director of publishing at Bess Press. “Even though reading can be very individualistic and very personal, coming together over reading is very much a human-to-human connection.” —Martha Cheng

3565 Harding Ave., (808) 421-9460, dashophnl.com, @dashophnl


 

Way to use Palaka

best of honolulu shopping

Photo: courtesy of matt bruening

 

It was the fabric of our lives back in the heyday of plantations and paniolos. So when palaka resurfaces in a stylish way, it deserves respect. We tip our palaka hats to Matt Bruening. This year, the local designer paid homage to the Hawaiian plaid and constructed scrunchies, pants, jackets, totes and, yes, bucket hats in color-poppin’ fabrics that deliver ’90s-comeback vibes. “I design with nostalgia in mind,” Bruening says. “I used to wear palaka shorts when I was growing up. To me, it represents the working class in Hawai‘i. I love that I can use it in a modern way and share it with the rest of the world.” —Stacey Makiya

mattbruening.com, @mattbrueninglabel


 

Best Local Tea Towels

best of honolulu shopping
PHOTO: Aaron k. Yoshino

Design is a family affair at Downtown General Store, the Kapahulu label responsible for our favorite flour sack tea towel. The Kiyabu clan has been making the charming kitchen accessory for nearly 15 years—dad Les screen-prints each by hand while wife Penny and sons Sky and Cody create the Island-style patterns starring everything from zodiac animals to lively kihikihi (Moorish idol reef fish). The idea for the towels came from Hawai‘i’s plantation days, when 100-pound flour sacks were bleached and repurposed as cleaning cloths, bedding and clothing. Today we’re just as obsessed with their ultra-soft feel; lint-free nature; and absorbent, quick-drying properties. Brie Thalman

downtowngeneralstore.com, @downtowngeneralstore


 

Greeting Cards with Crass

best of honolulu shopping

photos: courtesy of Formidably impressed

 

Sometimes you just wanna say, “You’s a Badass Mofo!” O‘ahu-based letterpress company Formidably Impressed specializes in smart-alecky, campy sentiments. “I thought our demographic would be 20- and 30-year-olds, but we heard from shop owners that older ladies, in their frickin’ 70s, have been buying out our cards,” says co-owner Cherish Prado. G-rated cards are also done in vintage-inspired fonts and clever graphics. “My partner, Gavin Murai, is awesome at lettering and drawing,” Prado says. “And our press, named Hugo, was built in the 1850s.” —Stacey Makiya

formidablyimpressed.com, @formidablyimpressed


 

Best Gift Shop

Updated July 20, 2020: Owens & Co. is now an online only store

best of honolulu shopping

Photo: paul strouse

 

Owens & Co. is all about the sunshine. It streams in through the shop’s massive picture windows; it radiates from Missy Owens Mull, its friendly-as-can-be owner; and we’re pretty sure it’s embedded in all of its joyful wares. The Chinatown boutique has been our go-to for happiness-inducing gifts ever since opening in 2011. Baby lū‘au on the calendar? Hit the keiki corner for rainbow swaddles. Birthday brunch for the BFF? Scoop up a gingham tote and some cute tassel earrings. And then, there’s our favorite kind of Owens & Co. gift, the treat yo’self kind, perfect for when you need a little pick-me-up. A pineapple swizzle stick here, a monstera-print notebook there, plus an “ooh, guess what I just got” smile you’ll wear everywhere. —Brie Thalmann

owensandcompany.com, @owensandco


 

Best Place to Pick Up an Accessory with Attitude

best of honolulu shopping

photo: courtesy here

 

Boom. That’s what you’ll say when you complete an outfit with Here’s fabulous earrings. The selection at the shop in Salt is unique, bold and, often, can only be found there. “I like to look for jewelry that’s fun, innovative and still sophisticated,” says co-owner Yuki Peterson. “Most of the styles are from independent brands and are one-of-a-kind.” Find eco-friendly hoops from Atlanta’s Machete, dramatic jaw-droppers from Australia’s Lucy Folk and artsy masterpieces from Barcelona’s Levens. You may have seen these under-the-radar labels in our big fashion features. Whenever an outfit needed a little je ne sais quoi, we ended up Here. —Stacey Makiya

685 Auahi St., #2-115, (808) 369-2991, here-shop-here.com, @here.thestore


 

Best Place for Chic Kitchen Décor

best of honolulu shopping

photo: AARON K. YOSHINo

 

The kitchen is my favorite child of the home. It gets the most attention and I love to buy things for it. And Olive Boutique has become the place for me to do just that. The newish home department at the Kailua-based boutique is brimming with sunshine, style and, of course, houseware finds. Hawkins New York glassware and tableware strewn with raffia lacework are simple in design but add charming flavor to brunch tablescapes or windowsills. Elevated pantry staples that include Jacobsen Salt Co. gourmet salts, Brightland olive oils and Caffe Vita roasted coffee blends are sprinkled throughout the shop. Need to add more meat to your recipe collection? Check out the cookbook selection and find new ways to add spice and spirit (Yes Way Rosé by Erica Blumenthal and Nikki Huganir) to your kitchen. —Stacey Makiya

43 Kīhāpai St., Kailua, oliveandoliverhawaii.com@olive_boutique


 

 

Best Place to Purchase Art

Reader Pick

best of honolulu shopping
PHOTO: Aaron k. Yoshino

It only makes sense that the shop you know and love for great framing services, Pictures Plus, can also be a fantastic source for artwork. Owners Kent and Lori Untermann first set the wheels in motion back in 1986 when they bought a container of local art to frame and sell at the swap meet. Thirty-four years later, their business has grown to six locations offering a variety of styles by top Island artists, including gyotaku, floral illustrations, wildlife paintings, and surf and landscape photography. Pieces are printed in-house on paper, canvas or the newest option, sleek aluminum. —Brie Thalmann

Multiple locations, picturesplusprints.com, @picturesplushawaii


 

Best Fresh Twist on the Hawaiian Quilt

best of honolulu shopping

photo: AARON K. YOSHINo

 

In the hands of photographer Kristen Hook of Lola Pilar Hawai‘i, simple leaves, flowers and pieces of fruit are transformed into captivating kaleidoscopic arrangements. Her botanical quilts, as she calls them, draw inspiration from classic Hawaiian quilt patterns, but instead of fabric and thread, Hook weaves her stories with elements of nature, which she painstakingly disassembles, places into symmetrical formations and photographs. The results are used to create photo prints, scarves and postcards—aka gorgeous little garden parties for your home and wardrobe. —Brie Thalmann

lolapilarhawaii.com, @lolapilarhawaii


 

The Rest of the Best: Readers Picks

 

Best Aloha Attire

  • Winner: Reyn Spooner

Multiple locations, reynspooner.com, @reynspooner

  • Finalist: Manuheali‘i

Multiple locations, manuhealii.com, @manuhealii

 

Best Furniture Store

  • Winner: INspiration Interiors

Multiple locations, inspirationinteriors.com, @inspirationinteriors

  • Finalist: C.S. Wo & Sons Ltd.

Multiple locations, cswo.com, @cswo.hawaii

 

Best Home Accessories

  • Winner: SoHa Living

Multiple locations, sohaliving.com, @sohaliving

  • Finalist: Target

Multiple locations, target.com, @target

 

Best Jewelry Store

  • Winner: Nā Hōkū

Multiple locations, nahoku.com, @nahokujewelers

  • Finalist: Tiffany & Co.

Multiple locations, tiffany.com, @tiffanyandco

 

Best Place to Purchase Art

  • Finalist: HiSAM Museum Gallery Shop x Mori by Art + Flea (Closed)

250 S. Hotel St., shophisam.com, @hisam_gs_mori

 

Best Shoe Shopping

  • Winner: Nordstrom

1450 Ala Moana Blvd., Suite 2950, (808) 53-6100, nordstrom.com, @nordstrom

  • Finalist: Macy’s

Multiple locations, macys.com, @macys

 

Read more stories by Martha Cheng, Stacey Makiya and Brie Thalmann

 

 

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