By Nadine Kam
Sanuk aims to put the fun in footwear, with the slogan "Smile ... pass it on!" — Nadine Kam photos
Sanuk founder Jeff Kelley was in town to mark the grand opening of the brand's third company-owned store, and first in Hawaii, in less than one year.
The event took place Dec. 11 at the store in the Hyatt Regency Waikiki Beach Resort & Spa, where there was a blessing by Blaine Kamalani Kia, performance by long-time Sanuk ambassador/surfer/musician Donavon Frankenreiter, and beach party fare of hot dogs with all the necessary condiments, and fancy s'mores on a stick.
Sanuk is now a division of Deckers Outdoor Corp., but Kelly told me the whole story of how he simply started creating funny footwear for himself in his back-yard shed because that's what he wanted to wear and there was nothing like it on the market at the time, in the late 1990s.
Sanuk founder Jeff Kelley with a display of men's designs.
He dubbed his first creation, with a bed of indoor/outdoor carpeting the "Fur Real," (like AstroTurf) inspired by a trailer trash moment in fashion, and he dubbed his fledgling company Sanuk, which means "fun" in the Thai language, and his aim was to create "funk-tional" sandals for fellow outdoor buffs.
"I knew all the surf shop owners, but the funny thing was they did better with luxury retailers like Louis Boston, Fred Segal and Barney's." His high-end contacts came through attending the Magic Trade Show.
Even so, he said business was slow until he created his signature slip-on Sidewalk Surfer, by putting a shoe top made of poncho fabric on a sandal footbed. He also became the first to create a sandal with a cushy yoga mat footbed in 2006. It's now one of the top sellers among women.
"The cushion's different," he said. "It works like a Temperpedic mattress, molding itself to the shape of your foot."
In the spirit of fun, the shop was giving away stickers, and Frankenreiter-inspired moustaches, which will be perfect for wearing to the opening of "Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues," tomorrow!
Shoppers on opening day received extras like this Donavon Frankenreiter-inspired 'stache.
The popular yoga-mat sandals is available in many more colorways.
Donavon Frankenreiter, right, arrived straight from the plane from South America, where he performed in Peru with Incubus, and in Chile with Jason Mraz.
Displays around the store reminded shoppers to get their holiday shopping done.
New boat shoe-inspired, vegan- and vegetarian-friendly footwear for her, with jute wrap.
Men can add color to their lives too.
Donavon signed posters for fans.
Hot dogs, served with condiments that were off to the side.