Starting this year, November is Hawaii Fashion Month. And, as Hawaii Fashion Incubator co-founders Melissa White and Toby Portner will tell you, there’s a lot of change to dish. Here’s what we’ve got in store for you as HFM continues to move Hawaii fashion forward:
November is (Now) Hawaii Fashion Month
Why the change to November? Aside from the fact that this is the month for holiday shopping, it’s also one of Hawaii’s slowest months in terms of in tourist activity. Also, November, as opposed to October, will allow for increased international participation based on the international fashion calendar.
HFM is not only a month of events, but it also supports the infrastructure of Hawaii’s fashion industry and allows those involved to showcase their talents on a much bigger platform with greater exposure. This year, HFM will have increased international exposure with the first-ever HONOLULU Fashion Week, organized by HONOLULU Magazine, HFM’s major magazine partner.
“HONOLULU Fashion Week is a great example of an HFM partner stepping up to produce a major event and sharing that platform with the community,” says White.
Shared Venue Returns
Remember last year’s OUTFIT venue? This year, HFM hopes to invest in a shared venue again, but for 7-10 days, during which different designers and a variety of partners and vendors can host a multitude of events. The concept behind the shared venue is similar to OUTFIT, but will be open longer to give participants greater access and create a hub for Hawaii fashion.
Hawaii Fashion Exchange
The Hawaii Fashion Incubator will also launch a new online platform called the Hawaii Fashion Exchange (HFX), an effort to respond to the needs of the local fashion industry that became apparent from HFM last year, as well as the needs of HFM’s partners, sponsors, and event hosts, who will be able to post offers and needs to HFX.
For example, HFM’s hotel partners can post special rates for those who might want to host events at their venue. HFX will also feature a listing of professionals, including modeling agencies, designers, stylists, event producers, and more. The idea is that HFX will serve as a platform for members to connect with resources and opportunities. HIFI will also select from members of HFX when planning news segments and print media coverage leading up to HFM, so the platform presents the opportunity for great media exposure.
White explains that HFM is dedicated to a simple, yet poignant purpose: collaboration. “That’s the theme that keeps coming up, because just having five successful companies doesn’t mean we have a fashion destination or fashion capital,” she says. “HFM is about everyone coming to the table and working together, from emerging designers to luxury retailers and legacy Hawaii brands. They all participated last year and that spirit has to continue for this to be successful. Collaboration will allow us all to achieve more.”
Along with launching HFX, HIFI is also considering a certification and credential program, which would present professionals the opportunity to learn from experts in the industry through workshops and seminars. Come April, HIFI will host a workshop with Lynne O’Neill, who has directed many fashion shows for New York Fashion Week. Those who complete the workshop will be given a certificate of completion.
“Each year, we need to further elevate the quality of the brand of Hawaii fashion that we put out there to the world,” White says. “By connecting local professionals with top-notch training and mentorship, we can continue to raise the bar and promote Hawaii alongside other major fashion destinations.”
Evaluating the Numbers
In addition to collaboration and professional development, HFM also allows the industry to take stock of its current state. “Last year, we collected a lot of data and found that our members’ biggest needs were manufacturing, promotions, and capital,” White says. “HIFI is focusing our efforts in support of the industry to make sure that those gaps start to get filled. HFM is a way to bring the community together around shared needs, as well as providing the key promotional platform for the industry to brand Hawaii fashion and showcase it to the world.”