Fashion: Danene Lunn

Kept Alohawear vital
Photo: Aaron Yoshino 

“Our mission has always been the same, to modernize alohawear,” says Manuheali‘i co-owner and lead designer Danene Lunn. And 2015 marked a major milestone for Lunn’s label, its 30th anniversary, an impressive achievement in the fickle fashion industry, where startups come and go as quickly as the trends. 


Lunn attributes the brand’s staying power to two things. The first is family. Husband Pono and son Lōkahi create Manuheali‘i’s prints while oldest son La‘amea handles the accounting and inventory, and middle son Ke‘aka runs the website.


The support is pivotal. “That’s why last year we really took off,” says Lunn. “I was finally able to just concentrate on design.”


It’s the designs that keep customers coming back. The appeal of Lunn’s easy-chic silhouettes and bold color combos transcends generations—tūtū rocks her maxi dress just as well as her 20-something niece. Iconic, Island-minded graphics speak to a local audience, drawing inspiration from what’s relevant in Hawai‘i. 


The brand has grown exponentially since its 1985 craft fair debut, when its first collection consisted of just two styles. Today, a 24-piece collection is released every month via two brick-and-mortar stores and online shop, and has expanded beyond womenswear to accessories, menswear, childrenswear, activewear and a home collection launching this April. 


All came together for Manuheali‘i’s other 2015 milestone, a 36-look, New York-caliber runway show at HONOLULU Fashion Week, the largest-scale show the brand has produced to date.


“It was mind boggling to see how much I had learned; how far I had come,” says Lunn. “It was an aha moment—I proved myself to myself.”