By Nadine Kam
Nadine Kam photos
A lounge area in the new Leather Soul Downtown allows men to browse in unrushed comfort and shoot the breeze when they're not shopping.
I meet a lot of starry eyed entrepreneurs in my line of work so I know, vicariously, how hard it is to grow a business and get one's message heard above the constant drone of a 24-hour media culture. It's especially difficult to make it in the fashion realm because Honolulu isn't exactly a fashion-friendly town.
So it's thrilling to see Tom Park opening his third Leather Soul store in downtown Honolulu, a haberdashery specializing in the shoes that built his business, as well as a curated selection of fine men's furnishings and collaboration clothing and accessories. He's succeeded in building up his boutique at Royal Hawaiian Center, followed by a boutique on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills, and now has returned to downtown Honolulu, the setting for his first business, in no more than 500 square feet. His newest store measures 19,000 square feet in the beautiful, historic historic Stangenwald Building. And he's accomplished all of this in eight years.
I wasn't there in the beginning, but discovered Leather Soul in 2008 when it was housed in another closet of a space in an unassuming second-story space in Waikiki. I was accompanying my husband in his search for great shoes, which included making a tour of John Lobb and Church's stores in New York, before he bought Aldens from LS.
Pretty soon I was attending LS's grand opening at RHC, then following Tom's move to a bigger space, then celebrating an expansion of that space. It's amazing to see this house that shoes built, and in my story in the paper today, he reminds that Nordstrom also got its start with shoes.
Could we have a future Nordstrom-caliber homegrown store in our midst? It's exciting to think about the possibilities. The new store opened Dec. 17 at 119 Merchant St. Here's a look:
A display of leather goods and footwear, with art of the Fab Four.
Leather Soul owner and founder Thomas Park, center, with downtown general manager Justin Cariaga, left, and Waikiki general manager Takuya Hoshino.
Cindy Ellen Russell photo
James Chan, Realtor-partner with Prudential Locations, models some of Leather Soul's apparel: a Taylor Stitch for Leather Soul blue oxford shirt ($130), Hillside pocket square ($45), Whitehouse Cox belt ($150), and Alden 966 burnished calf shoe ($475), mixed in with his own slacks and jacket.
One of only 24 pairs of Alden Cigar Jumper Boots available in limited-edition Cigar Shell Cordovan ($725) to mark the grand opening of Leather Soul Downtown.
Joe Bock, with Lisa Yamada, has fun with one of the store's props, a suede football. He had a very different prop in hand when we visited the Kahala Hotel earlier in the day for tea and a visit to a new children's boutique. I'll have that post up later!
New, collectible and vintage Rolexes and other timepieces will be available at the shop. One example is this GMT Master model 1675 1970s faded bezel sport Rolex, about $7,000.
From left, Richie Miao, Kris Tanahara and David Bui, vice president of watch specialists, Honolulu Time Co., who is offering some of their timepieces at LSDT.
Norm Tabije relaxes in the store's custom-built barber chair with his Scotch. The chair creates ambience for LSDT's grooming products.
Edward Green shoes.
Leather Soul's Shane Matsuda with Terri Inefuku, left, and Stacey Makiya.
Salvatore Ferragamo belts.
Pizza from J.J. Dolan's served up during a media visit Dec. 19.
The Leather Soul logo in the window.