Symposium spotlights thriving fashon industry on Kauai

LIHUE — With so much attention fixated on the fashion and small business scene in Honolulu, Mark Perriello was pleased that Kauai and the neighbor islands are beginning to receive the recognition that they deserve.

“It really comes down to the fact that there’s a lot of activity happening on the neighbor islands. I think people often assume that all the activity takes place in Honolulu but that’s just not the case anymore,” said the president of Kauai Chamber of Commerce.

The third annual Hawaii Fashion Month’s Fashion Industry Symposium took place Wednesday afternoon at the Kauai Beach Resort as small business owners, fashion aficionados and fans of the television show “Project Runway” gathered to listen to guest speakers.

Kini’okahokuloa ‘Kini’ Zamora, an award-winning designer and former contestant on “Project Runway,” was among them.

Raised in Hawaii and a graduate of Honolulu Community College, Zamora was overjoyed to have the opportunity to help small business owners on the Garden Isle for support, knowing full well of the challenges of making it in the fashion industry from Hawaii.

“I think it’s amazing that fashion is growing in Hawaii,” Zamora told The Garden Island. “Just knowing that it’s going to other islands and not just Oahu, I think it’s great. There’s tons of small fashion businesses here that I feel like are on the map on the mainland. It’s just growing as fast as it can. It really is.”

From website designers, bikini stores and people who are passionate about the local fashion industry, Zamora could sense the creativity in the room.

“There’s so much talent and creativity that’s coming up from all different places on this island and I think it’s great that we have that advantage of being so far away from everyone else,” Zamora said.

For Perriello, it’s important for small businesses on Kauai to continue to move in the right direction.

“The fashion industry is actually thriving,” Perriello said.

Randy Francisco, film commissioner and creative industries and small business coordinator with the County of Kauai Office of Economic Development, said fashion is “part of our DNA, in terms of our culture.

“Our ethnic diversity says it all. From Asian to Pacific Islander to mainland USA, I think it’s important that we continue to support arts as a whole.”

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