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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Monday, February 19, 2007

Kick'n Aids

By Paula Rath
Advertiser Staff Writer

Ian Ginoza of Kicks Hawaii displays the Chuck Taylor sneaker that he helped design for Converse and (PRODUCT) RED. It features a Hawaiian print by Sig Zane, which is also on the hat.

Photos by GREGORY YAMAMOTO | The Honolulu Advertiser

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Sig Zane

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Part of the sales from this limited-edition Converse shoe goes to the Global Fund, to help fight AIDS in Africa.

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From left, Sig Zane, his wife, Nalani Kanaka'ole, and their son, Kuhao. Sig Zane and Kuhao helped design a Converse shoe with a Hawaiian twist, which raises funds and awareness for the Global Fund.

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The Zane print used for the shoe can also be found on caps.

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The classic Chuck Taylor Converse shoe is about to get a little aloha and mana from Hawai'i and the combined result will help make the world a better place.

Ian Ginoza, creative director and part owner of Kicks Hawaii, that bastion of cool urban streetwear and shoes, has been asked by Converse to interpret the Chuck Taylor All Star for a (PRODUCT) RED shoe. (PRODUCT) RED, a project initiated by U2's Bono, harnesses the commercial power of the private sector in raising awareness and funds for the Global Fund, to help fight AIDS in Africa. A percentage of each (PRODUCT) RED product sold goes to the Global Fund.

The shoe will be a limited edition, sold only at Ginoza's three stores, on Makaloa Street, in Ward Centre and in Chicago, where his shop is called Saint Alfred.

The success of Kicks Hawaii has made Ginoza a man in demand in international fashion circles. Retailers in Europe, Asia and throughout the U.S. are scrambling to target the youth market with a music- and skateinspired urban aesthetic, as exemplified in everything Kicks Hawaii does.

That's why it was a natural for Converse to contact Ginoza.

"This is the most exciting project I've ever done. I'm humbled and stoked by the experience," Ginoza said. "Sometimes Hawai'i gets snubbed in the national fashion world, and this is a big platform on the world stage.

It was also a natural for Ginoza to call on longtime friends designer Sig Zane and his son Kuhao Zane, 24 for the shoe's fabric.

"Sig Zane is relevant in fashion and streetwear, not just in Hawaiian wear," Ginoza explained, adding, "Sig's process is all hand done, and that is how he keeps the mana, even in this computer age."

The mana goes deep. When Ginoza contacted the Zanes, Kuhao Zane said it had always been a dream of his to design shoes.

"I'm into sneakers personally, so I've wanted to design a shoe for the longest time," he said. "When I heard about it, I was actually kind of giddy about it."

"I know that sounds like a silly word, but, hey, I'm still giddy about it," Zane said, sheepishly admitting there are 40 pairs of kicks in his closet.

Kuhao Zane is a recent graphics graduate of the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising, a Los Angeles college specializing in fashion design.

In L.A., he became immersed in street fashion, a world in which he said collaborations are a common thing. "I immediately thought, 'Hey, I can apply Sig Zane stuff to a younger look with Kicks Hawaii.' "

Ginoza selected Zane's Uluwehi Keaukaha print in gray and white, and Zane silk-screened the design on fabric sturdy enough for shoes. Ginoza took the fabric and laid it onto the Chuck Taylor template, arranging the print to maximize its beauty. He added black matte eyelets and a few red eyelets and other details to bring (PRODUCT) RED back into the design. The foot bed sports the Kicks Hawaii logo.

Cost for the shoe is $100, with 10 percent of the net wholesale sales being donated in the name of Kicks Hawaii to the Global Fund. In addition, "Converse will donate $30,000 to the RED program in our name," Ginoza said.

Uluwehi Keaukaha has major mana for the Zane family.

"The 'ulu (breadfruit) tree that inspired the design is the actual tree in Keaukaha, where my dad planted my umbilical cord," Kuhao explained. The tree is in the yard of the home where Sig grew up, the home of Kuhao's grandmother, respected hula elder Edith Kanaka'ole.

Kuhao is a busy guy. He recently opened his own streetwear shop in Hilo, called The Cutlery. Now he and his design team are planning to expand their collaboration with Kicks Hawaii, adding caps and special-edition aloha shirts.

To celebrate their fifth anniversary this year, Kicks Hawaii will also partner with Zane on a limited-edition aloha shirt using chartreuse and black with the Uluwehi Keaukaha print.

Reach Paula Rath at paularath@aol.com.