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. (more…)