Retail newcomers offer options
By Paula Rath
Advertiser Staff Writer
By Paula Rath
In spite of the spiraling economy, a surprising number of new shops are opening in time for Black Friday. Backers no doubt made the decision to open long before the economy began to falter; nevertheless, they're showing faith in the Islands' appetite for fashion.
New shops on the Island retail scene, from Waikiki to the North Shore and Pa'ia, Maui:
AI AMOUR LUXURY LINGERIE
The local Muccia family has been in business in Honolulu for 17 years, with Allure Swimwear and Princesse Tam-Tam. Now the family has opened an upscale lingerie boutique, Ai Amour Luxury Lingerie, that will bring many exclusive European designer lines of lingerie to the Islands for the first time. Some, in fact, are not carried anywhere else in the United States. Among the boutique's lines are Christian Lacroix, John Galliano, Kenzo, Louis Feraud, Lise Charmel, Valery, Cotton Club, Sonia Rykiel, Parah and Rosy.
We had to ask where the name came from. Well, "ai" means love in Japanese and "amour" means love in French. And, of course, lingerie and love have a special link. Ai Amour is located in the Royal Hawaiian Center.
Kailua girl Ali McMahon lived in California and Seattle for years, honing her skills in fashion marketing and visual merchandising. But she always wanted to come home to Kailua to fulfill her dream of having her own boutique. It took just two months for her to find the ideal location, in the space occupied for 30 years by Ali'i Florist, 43 Kihapai St., Kailua.
Olive Boutique carries comfortable but fashion-forward clothing from Ella Moss, Indah, Free People, Aude and Young Fabulous and Broke, as well as fragrance, jewelry and paper goods. Not only is the store named after her favorite color, McMahon made the store green by using recycled store fixtures and found objects from around town; 263-9919, www.iheartolive.com.
Liz Lerner and Kai Cost grew up on the North Shore, so it's no surprise that they opened Guava Shop in the heart of Hale'iwa. The shop offers youthful, casually stylish beach-minded clothes that they describe as "organic to the country lifestyle." Brands include Splendid, Indah, C&C, Frankie B., Fresh Laundry and Green Dragon. Swimwear by Red Flower and Salt are exclusives on O'ahu. In addition, Guava Shop stocks jewelry by co-owner Cost under the Kaila label.
Both Lerner and Cost left Honolulu-based jobs to open their dream store in their hometown. Cost, a former interior designer, said they stripped down the space to its essentials, "to accentuate the merchandise, open it up and make it more warm and welcoming." Guava Shop is in the Haleiwa Town Center; 637-9670, firstname.lastname@example.org.
While Express has more than 500 retail outlets across the U.S., the new 10,000-square-foot Ala Moana Center store marks the mega-retailer's entry into the Hawai'i marketplace. Expect to see edgy, fashion-forward styles for men and women. For the holidays, there's lots of black lace and a splash of sequins, feathers and accents of cobalt blue.
Today is opening day. Express is throwing a party from 5 to 8 tonight with a holiday trend presentation by Express style expert Kevin Matthews, followed by complimentary one-on-one style consultations. There will also be energy drinks from Red Bull and a DJ spinning tunes. It's located in the Nordstrom wing.
A lot of folks don't realize that Letarte, the hip, bohemian luxury swim and cover-up brand, sold in style centers such as Henri Bendel in New York, has Maui roots. Co-founder and designer Lisa Letarte Cabrinha and her sister Michele Letarte Ross are Maui girls. Now Letarte has opened a flagship store in Pa'ia, Maui. The whitewashed beach house, located in the center of town on Baldwin Avenue, is the new home of Letarte's signature bathing suits, tunics and Petite Letarte line.
"Living on Maui has inspired my collections," Cabrinha said. "There's nothing better than opening our first store on the island where it all started." 24 Baldwin Ave., Pa'ia; www.letarteswimwear.com, 808-579-6022.
FOCUS ON THE BRIDE
Modern Pacific Weddings is presenting a trunk show of bridal gowns and jewelry today through Sunday. Featured will be the gowns of Adele Wechsler from her Classic collection, Hello Africa line and Eco Couture Collections for the eco-conscious bride. These feature organic silk blends and plant-based dyes using fair-trade labor. As a complement to the gowns, jewelry by Tiger Lilly will be shown. 3620 Wai'alae Avenue; 737-0638, www.modwed.com.
ECOSTYLE HAWAI'I AT PACIFIC HOME
Pacific Home wants to help Honolulu residents learn how to be more green. ECOSTYLE Hawai'i, an expo and fashion show, promises a night of green products and fashions. From 5 to 9 p.m. tomorrow at Pacific Home, 420 Ward Ave., green products and fashions will be gathered all in one place. Among them will be organic skincare by Pure&True, jewelry by Hinu and bags by Soozou. At 7 p.m. the fashion show will feature designs from Mu'umu'u Heaven, Mechakawa Vintage and Modern Pacific Weddings' eco-couture wedding gowns; 596-9338, www.pacific-home.com.
Reach Paula Rath at email@example.com.