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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, November 11, 2005

New hip in town

By Paula Rath
Advertiser Staff Writer

BCBGirl jeans, $108, belt, $56, purse, $58, tank top, $46, and watch, $40, are modeled by store owner Valerie Ragaza-Miao, available at Valerie Joseph.

Photos by REBECCA BREYER | The Honolulu Advertiser

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Lee Kekoa Benjamin, left, wears 7 Diamond shirt, $79, and MAVI Hunter jeans, $88. Bobbi Barrera wears City Lights tank tops, $36 each, MAVI jeans, $98, and belt, $16 ó all available at Second Skin.

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Anthony Cataldo models a Leilow T-shirt, $24, and his own jeans. Cap is an exclusive cooperative venture between Stussy and Leilow.

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Hats from Fitted, priced from $35 to $150.

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Silver purse, $51, and rhinestone tooled leather belts are $48 from Valerie Joseph.

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The hip quotient has been kicked up a notch in Honolulu with the addition of four new boutiques. Fitted, Leilow, Second Skin and Valerie Joseph express the unique vision of owners who share a goal of bringing something different to Island shoppers.

These boutiques represent a new generation of retailers, those transitioning from the teen and twentysomething club crowd into adulthood. They want to dress their age without sacrificing self-expression.

They have searched the East and West coasts and Europe for designer brands not previously available in Hawai'i.

While researching this story, we uncovered a network: Fitted, Leilow and Second Skin have informal partnerships with In4mation (Ward Warehouse) and Kicks (sharing space with Leilow). Itís a mutual admiration society with the added benefit of cross referrals. Keola Rapozo, co-owner of Fitted, summed it up in two words:
ďEverybody eats.Ē

FITTED

1438 Kona St., Suite B

Owners: Rene Matthyssen, Keola Rapozo

Phone: 942-3100

Web site: www.fittedhawaii.com

The vibe: Itís about fashion, not baseball.

The merchandise: Limited-edition New Era baseball caps that can be special ordered with any major-league team logo, color and fabric desired. Current stock includes pinstriped denim, brocade, flocked camouflage, wool, seersucker and faux suede. Official team colors are irrelevant. Itís about matching your cap with your shoes or clothes. Also house-designed T-shirts.

The customer: Young, hip guys who want to look fly, as well as collectors who want caps that no one else has.

The motto: Get your fit right.

The prices: $35 to $150.

Of note: Neither owner has any retail experience; Matthyssen was a professional skateboarder and Rapozo, a Honolulu Community College fashion grad, was a designer with several local clothing manufacturers. In 2006, they plan to introduce cabbie hats and fedoras which also can be custom-ordered.

SECOND SKIN

Ward Warehouse

Owner: Alexander Farmakis

Phone: 593-1056

e-mail: shiva@hawaii.rr.com

The vibe: A denim boutique with an emphasis on self-expression: Your clothing is your second skin, an outward expression of how you feel.

The merchandise: MAVI jeans (from ultra low-rise to just below the waist, boot-cut to flare), San Francisco City Lights, Philosopher Garden shirts, 3rd Born, 7 Diamonds, Blue Tattoo and Free People. Also silver jewelry, shirts, camisoles and T-shirts to pair with jeans.
The customer: Artsy men and women ó from teens to those in their early 30s, although the jeans will fit a lot of different body types. ďIím in my early 30s now, and I donít want to look like Iím in high school, but I also donít want to look 40,Ē Farmakis said.

The motto: Itís about individuality, expressing yourself in a unique way.

The prices: Jeans: $64 to $98, T-shirts: $24 to $39, camisoles: $20 to $68.

Of note: Farmakis has retail in his blood. His mother, Terry Farmakis, owns the popular Mary Zís in Kailua. He previously had an Indonesian import business that he kept open through the holidays in Windward Mall.

LEILOW

1530 Makaloa St.

Owner: Jules Gayton

Phone: 941-9191

Web site: www.leilow.com

The vibe: Hip, cool and edgy, but not urban. It shares space with Kicks ó need we say more?

The merchandise: Limited-edition graphic T-shirts designed by Gayton, limited edition clothing and accessories by Stussy, Adidas and Nike.

The customer: Local artistic guys who want to celebrate life in HawaiĎi and all it has to offer.

The motto: Add good to the world.

The prices: T-shirts: $20 to $30, shirts: $20 to $75.

Of note: Owner Jules Gayton was a well-known professional skateboarder in Britain before he attended Pepperdine University and Parsons School of Design. In New York, he was DJ Jules, among the cityís most popular disc jockeys.

On Sept. 11, he decided to move to Hawai'i. He married a local girl, Jane Moon, and he is in love with the Islands.

VALERIE JOSEPH

McCully Shopping Center

Phone: 942-5258

Owner: Valerie Ragaza-Miao

e-mail: ragaza@aol.com

The vibe: Girly to the max, with velvet curtains, plush furniture, antique mirrors and plenty of pink.

The merchandise: From casual denim to sophisticated jersey. Lines include BCBGirls, French Connection (FCUK), Buffalo, Seven 7 and Take Outs. Recycled T-shirts deconstructed, embellished and reinvented as camisoles. Thereís an extensive line of Valerie Joseph private-label clothes. Also lingerie and accessories.

The customer: Women 16 to 60 who shop in San Francisco or Los Angeles because they are looking for something different. Pieces can go to the office or to a club.

The motto: Life is short. Buy cute clothes.

The prices: Camisoles: $21 to $79, jeans: $79 to $115, jersey signature tops: $42.

Of note: Ragaza-Miao has 22 years of retail experience and is fulfilling her dream. Name for the shop was inspired by her wedding invitations from last year, combining her first name with her husbandís.

Reach Paula Rath at prath@honoluluadvertiser.com.