Fashion Tribe

Governor's Fashion Awards honors Hawaii talent

November 1st, 2013


David “Pua” Rochlen of Surf Line Hawaii/Jams World was the winner of the Lifetime Achievement Award at the reinstated Governors Fashion Awards ceremony that took place Oct. 30 at The MODERN Honolulu. Longtime fashion veteran Dale Hope, in a vintage 1965 Sandwich Isles tapa-print jacket presented the award with Gov. Neil Abercrombie.Nadine Kam photos

It was one of the best-dressed events of the year as the Hawaii's fashion industry gathered to honor their own during the reinstated Governor's Fashion Awards ceremony that took place Oct. 30 at The MODERN Honolulu, the dazzling finale to the inaugural Hawai'i Fashion Month.

Before announcing the award winners, Gov. Abercrombie, self-conscious about his age, chuckled as he spoke of having known Surf Line Hawaii founder David Rochlen, and Hilo Hattie inspiration Clarissa "Clara" "Hilo Hattie" Haili.

While it's easy for many of us have grown up with a certain amount of entitlement to bellyache about how hard it is to get ahead these days, he reminded the audience that we can look at behemoths like Hilo Hattie and Surf Line/Jams World today and imagine they were fully formed from the beginning, but he said that was not the case, and in reference to Rochlen, said he had a strong belief in the industry and the confidence to make things happen back in the 1960s when no one was listening.

For the governor, it was an eye-opening experience to watch how a few key people in the business and fashion communities could come together to make a big difference in a few years, such as launching Aloha Fridays to boost sales of aloha wear.


From left, Hilo Hattie's Terri Funakoshi, CEO/President Don Kang and Felix Calvo. The company was named Major Retailer of the Year, and Kang also picked up the award for Outstanding Professional of the Year for his part in rescuing the company following Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Otherwise, the company would likely not have survived to see its 50th anniversary this year.

In their remarks, Hawaii Fashion Incubator co-founders Toby Portner and Melissa White, co-chairs of Hawai'i Fashion Month along with Sen. Will Espero, said it is still their aim to see where the needs and goals of the fashion community intersect, and to bring competitors together to work for the common good of the entire industry.

Industry veteran Dale Hope reiterated that point in his tribute to 'Iolani Sportswear, saying how he was afraid to approach company founder Keiji Kawakami for help, but that it was common in the early days of the industry for competitors to help each other out in times of need, when machines broke or if they needed a loan to get by, and he later learned that Keiji felt fortunate for having been helped by Watumull's.

In accepting the Lifetime Achievement Award, David "Pua" Rochlen of Surf Line Hawaii/Jams World said that when he found out about it, he didn't know why he won and thought he was too young to receive it. He humbly acknowledged that he was once told of running the company started by his father, "You did one thing right, you didn't screw it up."

He reminded all that the Hawaii fashion industry is about more than clothing, but offers the opportunity for all of us to connect with a lifestyle, culture, food, and all the things that create a feeling others can't find at home or anywhere else in the world.

He also announced that he is starting a petition to encourage the state to acquire the Nike building in Waikiki to showcase made in Hawaii products to the visitor market year 'round.

Here are the winners of the Governor’s Fashion Awards, announced Wednesday night at The Modern Honolulu at the close of the inaugural Hawai‘i Fashion Month:

>> Major Retailer of the Year: Don Kang, Hilo Hattie
>> Boutique Retailer of the Year: Deborah Mascia, Mu‘umu‘u Heaven
>> Emerging Designer of the Year: Cora Spearman, Coradorables
>> Established Designer of the Year: Rona Bennett and Lan Chung, Fighting Eel
>> Designer, Contemporary: Ari South, Andy South
>> Designer, Aloha: Jamie Makasobe, Ane Bakutis and Hina Kneubuhl, Kealopiko
>> Designer, Couture/Formal: Anne Namba, Anne Namba Designs
>> Designer, Jewelry: Jason Dow, Jason Dow Inc.
>> Photographer: Harold Julian, Harold Julian Photography
>> Wardrobe Stylist: Amos Kotomori, Amos Kotomori Ltd.
>> Beauty Professional: Paul Brown, Paul Brown Salons
>> Outstanding Professional: Don Kang, Hilo Hattie
>> Lifetime Achievement: David “Pua” Rochlen, Jams World

Congratulations to all, the finalists, and all those who put in the work day after day to make Hawaii a more beautiful place to live.


Pua Rochlen with wife Heather and keiki Nacho, David III and Pumehana, surrounded by Surf Line/Jams World 20-year employees. He bought three tables for his loyal 20-year workers.


Carla and Lloyd Kawakami of 'Iolani Sportswear were honored as the company marked its 60th anniversary this year. The family recently lost matriarch Edith Kawakami, but Carla said if she were here, she would remind them that any honors are  not about us as the owners, but about the people who make it happen and the people of Honolulu.


From left, Wardrobe Stylist of the Year winner Amos Kotomori, with stylist Jose Santamaria, designer Beverly Horton, and Georja Skinner, chief officer of the Creative Industries Division/DBEDT. In his acceptance speech, Amos asked those in the audience to give the gift of time to mentor the next generation to strengthen the industry.


The Fighting Eel team, from left, Jacelyn Oshiro, Erica Miller, Rona Bennett, Linh Owen and Lan Chung.


Coradorables' Cora Spearman shared her win for Emerging Designer of the Year with hubby Chris Chang and their kids, Izzabelle and newborn Zoe. In accepting the award, Cora spoke of learning she had brain and neck cancer four years ago, to come back from treatment to focus on her passion for fashion and family.


Designer, Contemporary category winner Ari South, left, with stylist Tyson Joines and Mrs. Hawaii 2013 Jaci Agustin.


Keith and Julie Aragaki with Designer, Couture/Formal winner Anne Namba and her husband David Cassidy.


I got to pose for a photo too, with Lauren Roth, left, and Melissa Rivera.


Rick Ralston, Crazy Shirts legend and Boutique Retailer of the Year nominee for Rix Island Wear, with Sue Jansen.


Designer, Jewelry category nominee Kaylin Laeha of Panacea, left, with Designer, Couture/Formal nominee Feliz Salas.


Jill Kuramoto, left, with Amanda Stevens, who's wearing Ari South.


Hawai'i Fashion Month co-chair Sen. Will Espero and Lyra Johnson.


The evening featured a fashion show of Hawaii style past and present.


The fashion show was produced by Ralph Malani, also creator of Hawaii Fashion Week, and the Mr. & Miss Polynesia Pacific pageant.


Interspersed between the vintage and designer fashion were costumes created for the Mr. & Miss Polynesia Pacific costume segment.


Fun dress!


The models walked to the accompaniment of music by Mahi Crabbe. Beautiful voice, wonderful musician. Unfortunately for those who wanted to book him on the spot, his regular gig is at the Bellagio, Las Vegas.


This retro circa 1970s look is coming back for Spring 2014!

More photos:

Governor's photo album

2 Responses to “Governor's Fashion Awards honors Hawaii talent”

  1. carol yotsuda:

    I can't believe that you were working all that time gathering up all these photos and looked like you were cool as a cucumber and relaxing the whole evening. Where is photo of Moani? She was delightful.

  2. Nadine Kam:

    Haha, cool til the minute I fell over my chair trying to lean over and talk to Mark Ramelb! Didn't take many stage shots but there are links at the bottom of the post to Honolulu Pulse shots and gov photo album with Moani and the acceptances.

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