Sig Zane’s New Chinatown Shop Fashions New Opportunities for the Hilo-Based Brand

Sense of space.
Sig Zane
Price is right: Most general store products will cost less than $100.


Kaiao_Space is rather modest. But that’s the point. “Our goal is to use this open layout for art exhibits, fashion installations and client collaborations that tell a deeper narrative than what you see on shelves or racks,” says owner Kūha‘o Zane. “With movable shelves and a sliding door divider, we can change the space to fit and showcase new projects. Or,” he says, laughing, “possibly watch a Max Holloway fight.”


The space may be spare, but Sig Zane’s presence is there: Built into a wall is a 3D, light-up depiction of the shop’s logo. Front windows and floors are canvases for graphic map illustrations of Chinatown streets (a design featured in a past collection), and blank walls accommodate large-scale art, such as giant ‘ulu decals (a nod to one of Sig Zane’s signature prints) that could be seen from across the street in January.


But, with that said, customers can still expect to find exciting new items that go beyond the aloha shirt.


SEE ALSO: O‘ahu Shopping Guide: The Best Boutiques in Chinatown and Downtown Honolulu


Since it opened in December, Kaiao_Space has housed a locally made capsule collaboration with Hurley and a collection of women’s looks that local stylist Lindsey Higa created using prints she pulled from Sig Zane’s archives. Also worth mentioning are SZ’s “general store” goods—notepads, aprons, pillows, totes—that are emblazoned with the brand’s beloved Island-inspired prints.


“Our first product collection for the shop was created by Big Island charter school seniors. Bringing cultural knowledge and consciousness to these young adults is important to us,” Zane says. “What they learn transfers over to artistic designs that we use.”


And, while the intention of Kaiao_Space is to move the SZ brand forward, Zane never forgets where he came from. “My grandmother wrote some of her famous song lyrics in the quiet morning when the sun peeks out from the horizon,” he says. “That time of day is called kaiao. Her pursuit of creativity was a priceless legacy that she passed on to her children and grandchildren. This place is an ode to her.”


1018 Smith St. Check @kaiao_space and @sigonsmith on Instagram for store hours and updates.


Read more stories by Stacey Makiya