Editor’s Page: Exploring Hawai‘i Fashion

The sweat behind the style.
Photos: Kristin Lipman


Photo: Adam jung

Tropical fashion and tiki drinks feature prominently in this month’s issue and their languid beauty hints of dreamy times interrupted only by a light breeze riffling through palm trees.

Those of us who work in journalism in Hawai‘i are often fortunate enough to walk alongside creative people doing all manner of things. For this issue, we explore the beauty and challenges of the fashion world. Leading our expedition into the past, present and future of Hawai‘i’s fashion industry, we have our fashion team: managing fashion editor Brie Thalmann and senior fashion editor Stacey Makiya.

There’s an undeniable glamour to fashion: drop-dead-gorgeous clothes, the striking models, dramatic make-up, stylish photographers, creative art directors and the beautiful settings for the photo shoots. But a whole lot of work goes on behind the scenes to get a few near-perfect photos.

And that’s after the work that goes into designing the clothes: years of long hours, inspiration interspersed with the stomach-dropping pitfalls that entrepreneurs encounter. In this month’s fashion feature, we learn more about the work that goes into the design and construction of the styles we see in our magazine and on the streets of Honolulu. We find out some of the difficulties as well as the bright spots that keep these designers going.

Our team got a great deal of gracious assistance from several key designers: Dale Hope, Sig and Kūha‘o Zane, Ari Southiphong and fashion producer Lynne Hanzawa O’Neill. They happily ventured out into the forest, the lo‘i, Kailua Beach and a pineapple field to help illustrate our feature on Hawai‘i fashion: “Aloha by Design.”

We also heard from Fighting Eel’s Rona Bennett and Lan Chung, who talked about their journey building what’s now a popular three-store (soon to be four) contemporary fashion presence.

It’s clear that the fashion industry remains a small slice of Hawai‘i’s economy. But we hear from fashion experts that there’s a feeling of energy, building, moving forward, with more new designers joining the legacy Hawai‘i fashion houses (Tori Richard, ‘Iolani Sportswear, SurfLine Hawai‘i/Jams World).  And it was fascinating to hear from the designers about what keeps them grounded. For example, Kūha‘o Zane said hula keeps him centered. For Lynne Hanzawa O’Neill? Even while leading the glamorous life in New York City, she still puts on her Locals rubber slippers. You’ll have to read the rest of the story to find out the others (including fashion items they covet) and learn more about what Hanzawa O’Neill refers to as “aloha zen.”

We also hope you’ll enjoy Best Bars, The Tiki Revival Edition, which sent most of our writing team out into the community to explore tiki drinks both classic and contemporary. Yes, we know that sounds like a rough assignment. I confess the research reminded me of a friend and former editor of this magazine, the late John Heckathorn. When we received our tiki drinks, my friend and I toasted  John and his adventuresome spirit.

We also know that other people who appreciate food as much as John will enjoy the eclectic mix of news that food and dining editor Martha Cheng brings us this month: a new Mexican eatery in Waikīkī, a peek into the process for an O‘ahu-made rum, and flour made from kiawe beans.  

Thank you for exploring with us.

For the latest on HONOLULU Fashion Week, go to honolulufashionweek.com.