It was about five years ago when Melissa May (now Melissa White) and Toby Portner joined Hawaii’s Fashion Forum with the ambitious idea to create a Hawaii Fashion Incubator, an organization that would bring together all facets of Hawaii’s fashion industry, including designers, retailers and manufacturers, with the shared vision of a unified, and thus stronger, local industry.
They have gone about the process in an intelligent, studied way, befitting both their personalities. They are a remarkable pair of women. They began by surveying the local fashion industry, then holding a panel (on which I was proud to serve) to determine potential interest. They held a contest to establish the name and logo, thus becoming Hifi.
Toby was a fashion designer so she was aware of all the difficulties entailed in the industry. Melissa , although a passionate lover of fashion, did not have formal fashion background. I mentored her and she began freelance writing and styling for Island Life and U magazine with me. Naturally, she excelled at both.
Melissa and Toby have traveled to Kauai and the Big Island for weekend fashion shows and events to involve the Neighbor Island fashion and beauty industries. In short, they have been doing everything right. Now it’s time for our local fashion folks of every stripe to step up and show them that we’re serious. We want – and need – Hifi.
From March 18 – 27 Hifi is hosting a 10-day Pop-Up Fashion Incubator at Ala Moana Center. This is no small feat. They are taking a 7,000 square-foot space where they will host classes, fashion shows, exhibits, fashion seminars, films, trunk shows and more. They’ll also have a boutique showcasing the work of 18 local designers. The purpose of the event is to demonstrate how a physical space can bring the community together around fashion.
The event will help them raise awareness, support, and funding to help Hifi establish a permanent fashion incubator in Honolulu. If you support local fashion and believe in revitalizing local economies through community-building, then I invite you to join this effort.
Here are 3 simple ways you can help:
1) Visit Hifi’s Indie GoGo Campaign: Visit http://www.indiegogo.com/Hawaii-Fashion-Incubator and you will see many options for making a donation (great perks included!) and helping to spread the word about Hifi through Facebook, Twitter, e-mail and more. Send it to everyone in your network, and let them know that you want to see a fashion incubator in Hawaii.
2) Attend an event or class at the Pop-up: There are over 25 fashion events & classes planned during the 10-day pop-up event. I am involved in several, including a class on How to Promote Your Emerging Fashion Business, a fashion show by MegByDesign, Pecha Kucha (a chance to see my fashion-related art) and the launch of my new website: PaulaRath.com. More on these later…. Visit http://www.hawaiifashion.org/pop-up-calendarfor a full roster and to register for classes.
3) Join Hifi or Renew your membership: You can sign up at http://www.hawaiifashion.org If your membership has expired, you can log in and renew from there, or better yet you can visit Indie Go-Go and donate at a level that includes a Hifi membership (the Trendsetter level or above).
They also need “just folks” who love fashion to spend a few hours sitting the space. It’s a great opportunity to chat with like-minded fashion-lovers and to get to know the 18 designers who will be selling their designs in the Pop-Up shop. I’ll be “working” shifts on March 22 from noon to 3 p.m. and March 24 from noon to 3 p.m. Come keep me company and show your support for Hifi and its mission!
– Paula Rath