HIFI CONNECTS: The Business of HI Fashion Returns on November 6! Tickets on Sale Now

HIFI Connect E-Flyer V4 final

HIFI Connects is back for year 2! The 2015 panel will tell the story of a Hawaii-born fashion brand, Malia Jones Swim, and how it is taking flight with the assistance of two prominent LA-based fashion professionals with roots in Hawaii. The discussion will illuminate the process of taking a brand from concept, through to production and eventually, onto the sales floor. We’ll explore lessons learned and resources that are transferable to other designers.

Panelists include:

  • Malia Jones, Malia Jones Swim: A Hawaii born designer, model, and professional surfer who has launched an eponymous swim and resort wear line.
  • Robert Ikeda, Circle Group Inc. and Cameron Hawaii: An LA based consultant and designer that works with companies to brand, develop and produce their lines, and whose family has deep roots in the Hawaii garment industry.
  • Kay Sides, Hatch Inc.: The Hawaii-born owner of one of LA and New York’s most prestigious showrooms, Hatch Inc., which represents brands including James Perse, Superfine, and Twelfth Street by Cynthia Vincent.

“HIFI Connects creates a venue for discussions about the business of Hawaii fashion and what it takes to get a fashion line off the ground,” said HIFI co-founder Melissa White. “Hosting this event during November’s Hawaii Fashion Month draws attention to the critical parts of the industry infrastructure that is needed for designers to grow and succeed year round”.

HIFI Co-Founder Toby Portner added, “Bringing fashion luminaries from beyond Hawaii and providing fashion professionals & enthusiasts access to them builds bridges between Hawaii and the international fashion community. Our partnerships with Hawaiian Airlines, HONOLULU Magazine, and THE MODERN HONOLULU have enabled us to continue this tradition for a second year.”

Panelists are Mentors of the Hawaii Fashion Exchange (HFX), HIFI’s membership platform that provides resources, professional development, and community building to the fashion industry.

Tickets are $25, free for Hawaii Fashion Exchange (HFX) members, and can be purchased online at https://hificonnects2015.eventbrite.com/. Seating is limited.

AHOLA Site Specific Fashion Project Debuts during HFM!

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HFX Mentor Henry Navarro returns during Hawaii Fashion Month to showcase the results of Hawaii’s first fashion-as-public-art project at a special Hawaii Fashion Month edition of THE MODERN HONOLULU’s Study Hall Lecture Series on November 4th, 2015 at 6:00 pm.

The event is free and open to the public. It will include a presentation on the process that took place during the summer of 2015, and a showcase of the resulting collection, called AHOLA (“Aloha” spelled backwards). AHOLA is a community driven collection inspired by Hawaii’s history, nature, culture, and diverse population. Inherent in the creation of the collection is a discussion of the issues shaping Hawaii’s present and future. Pacific Edge Magazine is the media partner for the event and will showcase AHOLA in its Fall 2015 issue. 

“Through the six weeks I was in Honolulu, I worked with a diverse group, from concept to execution. We came together one evening to discuss current life in Hawaii, shared our individual perspectives, and then went on to design and create garments reflecting the dialogue. The group members contributed to every aspect of the collection. We discussed everything from colonial legacies to what and who is considered ‘local’ now”, says project coordinator Henry Navarro, a professor from Ryerson University in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Prof. Navarro has completed similar projects in Spain, Italy, Ohio, Canada, and Cuba, bringing people together to express somewhat difficult or uncomfortable topics.

The outfits were designed on-site by a group of Hawaii-based creators, and will be worn by a multi-ethnic group of ‘real-people models’ from various Honolulu neighborhoods. Each piece interprets elements of Hawaiian culture into contemporary looks. Through the lens of fashion, the designers collaborated and explored questions of locality and authenticity in Hawaii.

The project was supported by HIFI (Hawaii Fashion Incubator) & Native Books/Na Mea Hawaii. AHOLA received funding from the University of Hawaii at Manoa’s Diversity and Inclusion Initiative and from Ryerson University in Toronto, where Navarro is an Assistant Professor in the School of Fashion.

“I’ve known of Henry’s work for some time and always admired his desire to address community-related issues through the medium of fashion and dress. I have felt that one of his projects would work well for Hawaii. I am glad that he accepted the offer to come to Honolulu to share his experience and knowledge,” says Andy Reilly, Professor of Fashion Design and Merchandising at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. Reilly saw Navarro’s work in Toronto and was inspired to bring Navarro to Honolulu for a local edition. For AHOLA, Prof. Navarro worked with a group of volunteer design assistants and models who represent different ethnic and cultural experiences found in contemporary Hawaii. Their ideas and skills shaped every step of the creative process including conceptualizing the collection, selecting materials and sewing the garments. Several group members will also model their designs and produce the showcase.

“The premise of a fashion-as-public-art project is to select a location and, in a short period of time, design, develop and produce a collection intimately related to the place,” said Prof. Navarro. “Participative public artworks like AHOLA are only possible because of the interest and direct contribution from the local community.”

Follow AHOLA at: http://www.facebook.com/AHOLAFashionProject

Event Details: Wednesday, November 4th, 6:00 PM at THE MODERN HONOLULU’s The Study (1775 Ala Moana Blvd, Honolulu, HI 96815).


Whats On in November: Major HFM Sponsor Events

Models in Randy Leano gowns, Styled by JS Jose Santamaria Enterprises, Hair and Makeup by Motives Fashion ForWARD HFM 2014 Kickoff at the IBM Building, Ward Village. Credit: Travis Okimoto

Models in Randy Leano gowns | Styled by JS Jose Santamaria Enterprises |Hair and Makeup by Motives | Fashion ForWARD HFM 2014 Kickoff at the IBM Building, Ward Village | Credit: Travis Okimoto

HFM is nearly here, and the calendar is already filling up with events from our major sponsors!  Highlights are below, and details on each can be found on the HFM calendar at www.hawaiifashionmonth.com/calendar

November is a time for the industry to PROMOTE, ELEVATE, CELEBRATE, and CREATE to show Hawaii and the world what Hawaii fashion is made of.

There are still plenty of opportunities to participate, whether its hosting an event, showcasing at one of our partner events, volunteering, or simply coming out to support!  We look forward to seeing you in November.


November 1 –HFM Kickoff: Grey Goose Day Club at THE MODERN HONOLULU

November 4 – Study Hall @ THE MODERN HONOLULU featuring AHOLA: A Site Specific Fashion Project with HFX Mentor Henry Navarro

November 5 –Pacific Edge Magazine Fall Issue Launch at T Galleria

November 6 – HIFI Connects: The Business of HI Fashion at the Honolulu Design Center, featuring a panel of HFX Mentors from Hawaii and beyond

November 10 – Royal Designer Walk at Royal Hawaiian Center

November 12-14 – Ala Moana Center ‘Ewa Wing Opening

November 27-28 – Black Friday / & Small Business Saturday at Ward VillageNovember 20-22 – HONOLULU Fashion Week at the Hawai‘i Convention Center

Additional events are currently being planned. For the full details and calendar, visit hawaiifashionmonth.com.


Do you know where your fashion comes from? HIFI hosts a FREE screening of the film “The True Cost” (http://truecostmovie.com/) with very special guests Liz Ricketts and Branson Skinner of The OR Network, a not-for-profit organization aiming to end modern day slavery. The duo are experts on ethical issues within the Fashion industry, garment production on the Continent of Africa, as well as interdisciplinary experiential learning and educational technology.

Liz and Branson are on to Oahu to facilitate an extended version of The OR’s Minimakers project at Punahou’s summer school program. The Minimakers project is a hands-on crash course addressing waste in the fashion industry and teaching students how to remake used clothing with dignity and purpose. Together Liz and Branson have led over 500 students in New York, DC, Ohio, Michigan, South Africa and Ghana through The OR programming. See what Punahou middle schoolers are working on at https://minimakers.theor.org/

The True Cost is a feature length documentary film that explores the impact of fashion on people and the planet. Filmed in countries all over the world, from the brightest runways to the darkest slums, and featuring interviews with the world’s leading influencers including Stella McCartney, Livia Firth and Vandana Shiva, The True Cost is an unprecedented project that invites us on an eye opening journey around the world and into the lives of the many people and places behind our clothes. – See more at: http://truecostmovie.com/

Thursday, July 23, 2015
fishcake – 307 Kamani st
Doors at 6:00 PM, Screening at 6:30 PM
Light refreshments | BYOB

Parking available across the street at Lanai Things starting at 6pm

Space is limited. RSVP encouraged!

Honolulu’s First ‘Fashion as Public Art’ Project Needs YOU


Photos from previous collaborations including Havanidad (Cuba), Grey Cincinnati (US), Femme Universalis (Toronto), and Situozuone (Italy)

June 2015 brings Toronto designer, professor, and HFX Mentor Henry Navarro to Honolulu, where he sets the stage for Ahola, a site specific fashion project with potential to change the world!

A site-specific fashion project is a community driven public art work that takes advantage of fashion design’s collaborative processes to allow the exploration of social or political issues in a specific location. Henry coined the term “fashion as public art” and has completed similar projects working with communities in Cuba, Italy, Spain, and the mainland US.

Everyone is welcomed to participate, in everything from planning to design, photography, modeling, event production, and all the roles in between. Expert participants learn about the social empowerment aspect of project while novice ones learn about fashion as a creative industry.

The work starts right away and develops organically based on who comes to the table. The sky is the limit!

The final collection will be showcased during Hawaii Fashion Month in November 2015.

Please use this form to indicate your interests and talents and look out for immediate follow up.



Coming June + November 2015 – a  community driven design project with artist and Ryerson University fashion professor Henry Navarro, sponsored by HIFI and the University of Hawai‘i.

HFX Members + HIFI subscribers: Stay tuned for opportunities to be apart of this amazing project! This is a collaborative venture that will explore the intersections and influences between the diversity of Pacific island cultures that call Hawai‘i home. The project will consist of a fashion collection designed, sourced, and produced in collaboration with local communities over a month in summer of 2015.

The collection will use local materials and will be unveiled in a final presentation during Hawai‘i Fashion Month 2015. Henry will present the project at international conferences such as Fashion Art Toronto and the International Textile and Apparel Association Annual Conference.

Henry coined the term “Fashion as Public Art” and has completed collaborations that use fashion to comment on geographic context and social issues in Italy, Spain, Cuba, and the US.


Fashion Show Producer speaks at The Study @ The Modern Honolulu at 5:45pm on April 7th 2015.

New York Fashion Week, a trend-setting extravaganza, wasn’t always the glamorous spectacle it is today. In the beginning, during the first official 1994 event, debris littered the stage from earlier off-Broadway productions. Backstage, clothing was bought in on broken broom handles as a handful of fashion journalists and department store buyers gathered to eye the upcoming trends draped on relatively unknown models.

Standing there, orchestrating it all — as she still does today — was Hawaiian-born Lynne Hanzawa O’Neill.

Still one of today’s most sought-after producers, O’Neill arrives in Oahu this month to help plan the Fall 2015 Honolulu Fashion Week, slotted for Nov. 20 at the Hawaii Convention Center. During O’Neill’s return “home,” she’ll visit The Study to make a speaking appearance April 7 during THE MODERN HONOLULU’s popular (and monthly) Study Hall guest series. On the upcoming Study Hall agenda: all things fashion, including O’Neill’s role in last year’s Honolulu Fashion Week, thoughts on possible expansion of the event and Hawaii’s significance in the global fashion industry.


HIFI Connects: A Panel Event With Local And International Fashion Pros

The Hawaii Fashion Incubator (HIFI) will host HIFI Connects: The Business of Fashion, Coffee + Dialogue, featuring a panel discussion comprised of internationally recognized fashion industry professionals on Sunday, Nov. 9 from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. at the Hawaii Convention Center Exhibition Hall during HONOLULU Fashion Week.

The Hawaii Fashion Incubator (HIFI) will host HIFI Connects: The Business of Fashion, Coffee + Dialogue, featuring a panel discussion comprised of internationally recognized fashion industry professionals on Sunday, Nov. 9 from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. at the Hawaii Convention Center Exhibition Hall during HONOLULU Fashion Week. The event will also feature a panel of prominent Hawaii fashion professionals and the presentation of the 2014 Governor’s Fashion Awards by Governor Neil Abercrombie.

“HIFI Connects will present different perspectives on the business of fashion from within and outside of Hawaii,” said HIFI co-founder Toby Portner. “To move forward as an industry, we need dialogue about where we are, where we’re aiming to go, and what it’s going to take to get there.”

The HFX Mentor panel consists of accomplished professionals with connections to Hawaii, helping to paint a bigger picture of the global fashion industry. The Hawaii panel features local leaders who support the growth of the industry here on the ground.

HIFI Connects is open to fashion professionals and enthusiasts alike. Drawing upon many combined years of expertise, panelists will share insights into the current status of the local industry and discuss the future of Hawaii fashion, what is possible, and how to make it profitable and thriving.

International panelists include:

  • Lynne O’Neill: A fashion show producer with more than 30 years of experience producing New York Fashion Week runway shows for such designers as Tommy Hilfiger, Herve Leger, Catherine Malandrino, Vivienne Tam, and Rebecca Minkoff.
  • Jacky Tang: Vice president of branding & retail development for popular brand Opening Ceremony, Tang specializes in brand and merchandise development.
  • Roman Young: A graduate of ‘Iolani School, Young is the Director of Talent for Wilhelmina Models in New York, and has appeared on MTV, MSNBC, E! Entertainment, CNN, and as a judge on America’s Next Top Model.
  • Bliss Lau: Designer of a successful accessories brand that is carried in boutiques worldwide, Lau is also an associate professor at Parsons The New School For Design where she teaches how to build a strong brand vision.
  • Henry Navarro: An artist specializing in fashion as public art, Navarro is a faculty member in the fashion program at Ryerson University in Toronto. He will introduce “Aloha Na‘au,” a collaborative project for summer 2015.

Featured speakers in the Hawaii industry panel include:

  • Mark Tsuda of Jams World
  • Ed D’Ascoli of Xcel
  • Joy Nagaue of Honolulu Community College
  • Georja Skinner of the Creative Industries Division of the State Department of Business, Economic Development, and Tourism.

At noon the space opens to the public for HONOLULU Fashion Week’s Marketplace and participants are encouraged to stay to shop, mingle, and network.

HIFI Connects is Sunday, Nov. 9 from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. at the Hawaii Convention Center Exhibition Hall during HONOLULU Fashion Week. Seating is limited. Tickets are $25, or free for Hawaii Fashion Exchange members, and can be purchased online at hificonnects2014.eventbrite.com.

Learn Fashion Illustration By One Of The Best: Louda Larrain

Renowned textile artist Louda Larrain is teaching a half-day workshop on fashion illustration in conjunction with Hifi and Hawaii Fashion Month. Louda is a mentor in the Hawaii Fashion Exchange, Hifi’s recent membership initiative.
This post originally appeared on PaulaRath.com and appears here with permission from Paula Rath.

Fashion illustration is a skill that can be just plain fun. And you don’t have to be a fashion designer to enjoy it. Just loosen up and be ready to play!

Renowned textile artist Louda Larrain is teaching a half-day workshop on fashion illustration in conjunction with Hifi and HFM (Hawaii Fashion Month). Louda is a mentor in the Hawaii Fashion Exchange (HFX), Hifi’s recent membership initiative. (Learn more about her in my blog.)

The workshop is suitable for aspiring and experienced illustrators and it’s designed to be intimate, so space is very limited.


The Fashion Illustration workshop will be held:

Sunday, November 16

Noon to 4 p.m.

Hosted by Fishcake Gallery, 307 Kamani St. in Kakaako

Cost: $70 for the general public and $35 for HFX members

Register online here.

The workshop will cover:

  • A presentation on fashion illustration history
  • A demonstration explaining illustration approaches and methods
  • Numerous drawing sessions with a live model, followed by a critique of each participant’s work
  • Exercises to communicate students’ fashion ideas through drawing


I remember when I was a fashion student at HCC and I shared my fashion illustration class assignments with my husband, Jerry, who is an orthopedic surgeon. It drove him nuts because the proportions are so wacky and, well, kind of outrageous and beyond Barbie. He would go on and on about how I just couldn’t draw that way because no one’s legs are that long, no one’s head is that small and, well…. no one’s proportions are like that.

Well, you know what? When it comes to fashion illustration, imagination reigns and reality flies out the window. We get to live in la-la land for a little while. Try it. I think you’ll have a blast.

– Paula Rath

Follow Paula Rath at paularath.com: “Hawaii fashion and fitness.”