Fashion in Hawaii will take center stage next month with the first Fashion Month kicking off in just three days.
Preparations are underway to create the place where emerging local designers will be given the chance to be discovered.
By Tuesday, an industrial space under TJ Maxx at Ward Centers will become the hub of Hawaii Fashion Month. This two-day event, introduced as OUTFIT, is designed for more than 60 designers from across the state to get recognized and possibly given a big break in the form of a deal with buyers.
Among them is Brett Gontarek, whose work with wood gets him lots of praise. He says he's ready to go big.
“We want to get to the next level and so this is our first shot to really see where it can go,” said Gontarek, who owns Pono Woodworks.
An opportunity for Hawaii to finally get recognized for more than just the aloha shirt is what motivated fashion month.
“We’re embracing the fashion that people think of Hawaii as, but there’s so many up-and-coming designers and talent that we would love for the world to discover,” said Malie Moran, OUTFIT and Hawaii Fashion Month coordinator.
According to Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie, the fashion industry generates more than $750 million in sales, $20.4 million in tax revenues and 3,630 jobs.
He and other supporters see it becoming a billion-dollar industry.
“Why not?” said Sen. Will Espero, co-chair for Hawaii Fashion Month. “Because now it’s a global international market. We should be and we can be the leader in fashion when it comes to resort wear, swimwear and sportswear.”
It's a sentiment so strong, the state has invested $150,000 to help make fashion month an annual event.
OUTFIT is a two-day event and is open to the public for limited hours.