THE GENUINE ARTICLES
IT'S EASY TO SEE WHAT INSPIRED THE WARES OF THESE LOCAL BRANDS.
Looking for locally made products with more authenticity than what's at the department store, but less kitschy than what you might find at an ABC Store? We've got you covered. Here's a round-up of local brands offering art prints, clothing, accessories, decor and more, all perfect for your home, as gifts for friends, or souvenirs. Don't miss these brands while you're in the Islands:
1. Nick Kuchar Art & Design Co.
The nostalgic images of designer Nick Kuchar's artwork will transport you to another time—namely, the early days of beach culture and surfing, with its vintage pastel color palette, funky and playful typography and vintage look and feel. This illustrator and surfer may have grown up drawing and surfing in Florida, but an extended honeymoon with his wife, Rachel, turned into permanently living in the Islands for the past 14 years. Through his imagery, available on everything from prints and stickers to beach towels and tote bags, Kuchar brings to life a variety of iconic local locations, such as Sunset Beach, Diamond Head, the Ko‘olau Mountains, and the Napali Coast. Hawai‘i has never looked better. nickkuchar.com
Named “Ke Alopiko” after the belly, representing both piko, the Hawaiian word for umbilicus and one's center, as well as one of the choicest parts of a fish, Kealopiko was founded in the spirit of enjoying the finest things in life. Friends Ane Bakutis, Jamie Makasobe and Hina Kneubuhl created this clothing company in 2006, featuring designs inspired by Hawaiian history and culture. Their popular product selection includes the vivid Kahikiku aloha print line as well as the hand-dyed and printed All Aloha shirts, bags and custom pieces produced in Kalama‘ula, the oldest Hawaiian homestead on Moloka‘i. At their location in South Shore Market at Ward Village, peruse from a selection of dresses, pareus, tees, hats, clutches and other accessories adorned with images of marine life, coral, fishnets, and seashells. kealopiko.com
3. Bradley & Lily
Stacey Nomura was only a child when her grandmother taught her how to crochet and hand-make cards. As an adult, she decided to leave the corporate world in 2005 to partner with her husband Ian
and produce original greeting cards and stationary using an antique printing press. Her Pacific-inspired designs, on cards, notebooks, gift tags, and stickers, are inspired by the culture of Hawai‘i, tempered with her memories of growing up along the shores of Monterey Bay (and named for their two children). Looking for that perfect card with a graceful illustration of palm fronds, flower lei or sea life? Or a smart sketchbook with contemporary patterns of surfboards and custom lettering? How about just a cute birthday card with a sea turtle wearing a party hat that says, “shellabrate!” underneath? You'll find it at Bradley & Lily. bradleyandlily.com
4. Allison Izu
While studying at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York, Allison Izu realized that, if the mainstream fashion industry was designed for tall, waif-like models, then women of more realistic proportions were being neglected. She began designing jeans to fit shorter frames. Since then, Izu has grown her brand from a single line to a complete clothing brand dedicated to women who are 5' 6” or shorter. Offering an assortment of light tops, sleeveless tees, dresses, rompers, bottoms, and jackets, each designed for one of six body types from narrower shoulders and fuller hips to larger midsections to curvy. Izu's known for her elegant muted colors and a fit that matches your form without sacrificing comfort or style. allisonizu.com
5. Retrospect Designs
After breaking a brand new skateboard in junior high, Tyler Gregorka decided to build one from scratch using an old shelf from his house that he added wheels to, then shaped and sanded to perfection. He became hooked on woodworking; first honing his skills creating cabinetry for R & B Craftsmen in Las Vegas, then installing display fixtures and furniture at Whole Foods in Kahala. His company, Retrospect Designs, offers products drawing from his life experiences—from custom skateboards featuring maple, oak and mahogany wood in pinstripe patterns; to restaurant serving boards in the form of miniature surfboards; to home decor, such as planters and stools. Reclaimed materials when possible, and handmade with aloha always. retrospect-designs.com
6. Pineapple Palaka
Inspired by the woven palaka (checkered) material first worn regularly by Hawai‘i's plantation workers in the late 1800s, then which became a popular pattern for aloha shirts and surf shorts from the 1940s to the '70s, college friends Jonathan Fong and Rick Abelmann started Pineapple Palaka as a way to honor the unofficial fabric of Hawai‘i. They've created an assortment of neckties, bowties, scarves and accessories adorned with palaka pattern—as well as designs and patterns inspired by local culture, such as the jumping nai‘a (Hawaiian dolphin), honu (green sea turtle), regal orange-and-green ‘ilima perfect for weddings or graduations, and pineapple to signify hospitality and aloha. The two-month production process to create each of their handwoven ties is extensive but the result is one-of-a-kind; an homage to those, by those, who are hard at work. pineapplepalaka.com
When local clothing label Manuheali‘i first made its debut at a craft fair in 1985, there were only two styles available.
Today, a 20-plus collection of clothing and accessories for men, women and kids are released each month online, as well as at brick-and-mortar stores in Honolulu and Kailua. For co-owner and lead designer Danene Lunn, Manuheali‘i is a family affair—with her husband Pono and youngest son Lokahi creating prints, middle son Ke‘aka operating the website, and eldest son La‘amea handling accounting and managing the inventory. Overlapping patterns are inspired by island flora, intended to evoke the spirit of Hawai‘i, and are as hip for grandma as they are for her grandkids. manuhealii.com
Bradley & Lily greeting cards, note cards and notebooks are designed and letterpress printed, offset printed or foil pressed in Honolulu, Hawai‘i.