By Nadine Kam
Nadine Kam photos
Quiss DJs Heria, Yuria and Qp will perform at the FLAG-J grand opening party beginning 10 p.m. Dec. 21 at The Ginza, 1240 Kona St., for 21 and older. There will be free giveaways, and a FLAG-J footwear showcase.
The Tokyo-based shoe boutique FLAG-J opened its doors Dec. 20 at Ala Moana Center, on the lower level, mauka side of the mall. To find my way, I just looked for the crowd of well-wishers outside the door, halfway between Lupicia and the post office.
The eye-catching brand, which gained its following in trendy Shibuya, the heart of Tokyo's fashion district, is geared toward fashionable women, 18 to 35, seeking the latest styles at affordable prices. Right now, there are platforms, slippers and sandals on sale in front of the store for $39.99, while regular prices run about $129 for a range of styles, including pretty in pink and pastel kitten heels, low boots, pumps, ballerina flats and platforms. For fall, many of the styles incorporate an ultrasuede-like fabric.
FLAG-J is a trademark of the Akakura Corp., which also has plans to open a higher-end Akakura boutique on Beachwalk Avenue in April 2013.
Company president Futoshi Yamamoto went to great lengths to write down his thoughts in English, and read them to a crowd of media and friends at the grand opening. Later, he told me that he has been visiting Hawaii for more than 30 years, having first set foot in the isles as a teen-ager.
He said he's been told one should only open a business in places one loves, and he said he loves everything about Hawaii, and wants to do his part to help the economy by one day also opening a manufacturing company here to offer jobs to local people.
It may take a while to get accustomed to Japanese sizing however. As a fairly homogeneous culture, where most people are of similar size, their footwear comes in sizes small, medium and large, about 6 to 8 in U.S. sizes. Check it out.
Akakura president Futoshi Yamamoto read from his notes in English. Surrounded by hearts, he said that he learned long ago that one must love the place one chooses to do business, and he has loved Hawaii for many years, which is why he chose to be here.
Yamamoto with Angela Maki Vernon, left, and Miss Hawaii Bo Tanaka, in FLAG-J footwear.
Some serious platforms.
Kick up your heels in red for the holidays.
Woven plus animal patterns.
FLAG-J manager Risako Moribe in her knee-high Flag-J boots.
A toast to Ala Moana Center's newest addition.
At the opening, there was some fabulous food from Taormina restaurant including this seared ahi; grilled calamari and shrimp; and salmon, caper and onion risotto.
Also yum, Taormina's salmon with shrimp and avocado bruschetta. We left with desserts from Shirokiya's Kulu Kulu Cake.
The decor is so girly and pretty, and you'll be fitted for shoes on heart-shaped ottomans, below.
A view from the entrance, where it looks like you're entering a tunnel of love.