By Nadine Kam
Nadine Kam photos
Island Slipper owner John Carpenter is surrounded by some of his employees, next to Dorothy Kohashi in mu'umu'u. She is the daughter of Island Slipper founders Takizo and Misao Motonaga .
May 10 was a holiday for employees of Island Slipper, whose only obligation to the company that day was to show up in time for a bus ride to the grand opening of the company's new store at the Royal Hawaiian Center, before heading to lunch courtesy of boss John Carpenter, at Tsukiji Fish Market and Restaurant at Ala Moana Center.
The new store was designed in the nostalgic spirit of the beach homes that existed before the concrete and hotels that now line Waikiki. Located on the center's second floor, the shop's exterior stands out in its seafoam color, with warm wood interior.
Where most slipper shops are crammed into a small footprint, with wares simply lined wall to wall, Island Slipper has the luxury of 2,000 square feet, with lots of open space and retro displays paying homage to the company's 67-year history.
"We had to bring our game up because Waikiki is a different market," Carpenter said, adding, "Our desire was to create a fun place to shop where our customers feel at home."
Showcased are Island Slipper's signature floral-designed footwear, as well as women's designs incorporating beads, raffia and pyramid studs, and men's designs in leather and suede.
I was a little late to the opening, and walked in to find a surprise waiting for me. In 2011, I'd attended the grand reopening of Island Slipper's Ward Warehouse store and was impressed enough to write a feature story about the company. I happen to have Cinderella size feet, so the slippers didn't fit me. So I suggested to John that he add children's styles so I might be able to fit. He explained it wasn't that simple, so I figured the time wasn't right.
Children's slippers have yet to materialize, but in the meantime, he searched the globe for a smaller women's last and created a prototype size 4 for li'l ole me me, and, it fit! Oh happy day, it is so hard to find size 4s, much less my actual size, a 3! So I will be wearing my new white floral slippers around, and definitely will be kicking around New York streets in my Island Slippers in a few weeks!
Island Slipper stores are at Ward Warehouse (593-8229) and Royal Hawaiian Center Buiding A, Level 2 (923-2222).
The exterior of Island Slipper recreates the ambience of a beach house.
A pune'e adds to the beach house feel.
Vintage Island Slippers on display.
Featured from left are recent collaboration designs created for J. Crew, Japan fashion designer Tsumori Chisato, and Barney's New York.
Additional accessories capture Island Slippers island style.
One of many posters inviting shoppers to consider their sense of island lifestyle.
The Male'ana collection of honeymooner slippers, with examples above and below, allow couples to match without being matchy-matchy.
As company owner, John Carpenter can do what he wants and created the only existing pair of studded white "Elvis" slippers just for himself.
The ohana spirit is alive and well and on display at Island Slipper, where employee photos line the wall, and videos, below, pay tribute to the work they do in the company's Pearl City factory.
More vintage styles and company history.
Floral designs line a back wall.
Speaking of florals, this very special pair is the company's first size 4, created for my tiny feet.
Slippers with a printed cork heel and pyramid studs.