By Nadine Kam
Nadine Kam photos
In addition to receiving $2,000 as winner of Island Edge’s inaugural Design Star competition, Sina Thomsen received another $500 to donate to an organization of her choice, and she chose her alma mater, Honolulu Community College. She presented the check to her former instructor Joy Nagaue, and Gov.-elect Neil Abercrombie pledged to match that donation.
Governor-elect Neil Abercrombie made a commitment to the fashion industry Nov. 12 at Island Edge, at the finale of the boutique’s search for Hawaii’s next design star.
“I can assure you that this administration, an Abercrombie administration, is going to be behind island fashion 100 percent,” he said shortly before announcing Sina Thomsen as the winner of the competition.
You can hear his remarks in the video, but it was nice to hear Abercrombie pledge his support for the industry, a seeming no-brainer but seriously overlooked by past administrations. Fashion is a multi-million dollar industry but over the past few decades we have lost a lot of talent to Los Angeles and New York for lack of infrastructure to support such businesses. People who have been in the industry a long time often remind me that fashion was once the isles’ largest industry. The downside to manufacturing here is that all the raw materials must be imported, adding to the cost of doing business in Hawaii, but if there is enough business, everyone benefits, and Abercrombie recognizes that.
He added, “I fully intend to support, not just Island Edge, but anybody and everybody who’s promoting island fashion, and the more that we can do and the more that I can do, I pledge to you, being able to see to it not only that we do our designing here, but that we do as much as possible as we can in support of manufacturing and sale, and seeing to it that by virtue that by the state supporting island designers, manufacturers and clothiers that we do our exports as well.
“We’re going to take island fashion to new heights in terms of our exports we’re not just going to be sending dollars out of the state, we’re going to be bringing dollars into the state because fashion is going to be a centerpiece of our administration.”
Island Edge’s competition started months ago, with submission of one design, photographs and sketches for collections. After narrowing the field to three designers, including HCC graduates Reise Kochi and Randy Oribello, the designs were displayed at Island Edge, and shoppers were allowed to cast their votes for their favorite design, leading to Thomsen’s victory.
As the winner, Thomesen will have her hand-stamped halter dress manufactured under a label she gets to name, to be sold at Island Edge, along with prize money of $2,000 and a donation of $500 to the Honolulu Community College’s Fashion Technology Department.
Honorable mention menswear winner Randy Oribello, and honorable mention womenswear winner Reise Kochi each received $1,500.
Most importantly, it is nice to see a big business hold out a hand to young designers who have not received much support in the past. Island Edge is a retail concept by Pomare, Ltd., which does business as Hilo Hattie. The store is doing a great job in bringing young indie designers into the mainstream and hasn’t been afraid of bringing in the unusual and quirky more often associated with street fairs and underground boutiques. That’s refreshing because to any shopaholic, a lot of retail looks the same, and because images spread through multiple media channels are so repetitive, I think people want to see something different.
Joleen Iwaniec models a Trina Turk dress carried at Island Edge along with apparel and accessories by such local designers as Roberta Oaks, 1979, and Sierra Dew. She posed for a photo with Pomaré CEO and President Donald Kang.
Gov.-elect Neil Abercrombie with Andy South, one of the judges for the design competition, new First Lady Nancie Caraway, and Amos Kotomori, who was presenting a trunk show of his Bijoux Tamayo (Bling Tamayo) jewelry line, named after his mother. One of his pieces is shown below.
Richie Miao and Kara Matsunaga wear pieces from his Lovelessizm menswear line, with womenswear soon to come from Andy South. Richie’s shirt is a sample, with sterling silver buttons, which he plans to put into production, though, like gold, the price of silver is rising.