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Hawaii Fashion Designers Show Off Stellar Collections

Sew Young and Talented: Meet the next generation of Hawaii fashion designers—two up-and-coming standouts from the latest crop of graduating college seniors. Plus, a glimpse at their stellar collections.


Gonzalez with a model in a look from his Primrose collection.

Who: Matthew Gonzalez.

Where: UH Manoa, Apparel Product Design Merchandising program.

Why: Gonzalez stumbled into fashion, signing up for his first introductory level apparel class by mistake. An avid photographer who also dips into graphic design and aquascaping, he enjoyed learning about the ins and outs of the fashion world and it soon became a new passion.

What: Designed to exude a sense of whimsy and fun, Primrose, Gonzalez’s womenswear collection, steps up the current colorblocking trend by harmoniously mixing and matching bold, lively patterns into playful, unexpected combinations. Choice pairings include a gold-dotted tank over peach, lace overlay shorts and an edgy jaguar shell juxtaposed with an A-line, geometric-print skirt. Surprising touches abound, such as a roll-sleeve, cat-print graphic tee and flashes of checkered and blossom-covered bandeaus peeking out from the sides of roomier tops.

Ota (right) kicks back with a model rocking one of his streetwear looks. 

Who: Ryan Ota.

Where: Honolulu Community College, Fashion Technology program.

Why: Ota’s interest in menswear began with his extensive retail experience in men’s street- and surfwear, where he accrued an appreciation for quality fabrics and simple, long-lasting pieces. Locally, menswear designers are rare, so this recent HCC grad wanted to stitch the gap between Hawaii and guy’s apparel.

What: HCC has no real courses in this limited field, so with his collection, Thought Bubbles, Ota challenged himself by learning how to construct and cut men’s patterns. Contrasting color plackets create a mock-tie look and two-inch, matching flat pockets add an edgy urban feel to slim-fitting button-downs.  Straight-leg, low-rise jeans in cropped and shorts styles are easy to throw on thanks to drawstring waists. Welt-slit, matched-lining pockets also add to the hipster-approved, raw denim aesthetic. 

Plans: After graduating, the future-of-fashion newbie will be spending some time in Japan with hopes of gaining inspiration for a new extended menswear collection.

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Honolulu Magazine February 2018
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