Honolulu is best known for the white sandy beaches and ocean views of Waikiki, but there is much more to do there than stay on the beach all day long. In addition to popular shopping centers, farm-to-table restaurants, and historic museums, Hawaii’s capital is also home to a blossoming independent boutique scene. There, you can find some of the most amazing and unique apparel, accessories, and decor, many of which are locally made or carefully chosen from various places around the world.
A unique shop stocked with the best in modern fitting Aloha shirts and dresses designed by its namesake, Roberta Oaks the spot where where the hip locals buy their sharp fitting button downs and the best in vintage inspired dresses for the ladies. Everything is handmade in Honolulu, and the Aloha shirts are all created small batch, which has turned them into collectors items. The colorful day dresses are snatched up by international fans from Japan and Australia as well. The shop is also packed with the best in handmade bags, packs, totes, and accessories that you won’t find elsewhere in the islands. It carries goods by TOPO Designs, Will Leather Good, Stone + Cloth, Herbivore Botanicals, Thread + Stone, and Angel Court, as well as locally made jewelry and body products. There is also a bar and coffee section featuring Chemex, Big Island Organic Coffee, Wentworth, Kauai Cigars, and Mason Shaker. Owner and designer Roberta Oaks takes inspiration from her simple retro lifestyle, her vintage car, mid-century modern Hawaiian design and architecture, and a deep appreciation for traveling and culture, making her brand reminiscent of the fabulous ‘60s with an up-to-date modern fit and aesthetic.
Started in 2007 by Mari and Yutaka Chino, WIMINI is a cute little shop tucked away in a parking lot, filled with hand-printed and eco-friendly shirts for babies, kids, and adults as well as jewelry, home decor, and other apparel. The brand’s name comes from a shuffling of the letters from the name of the native Hawaiian honeycreeper ‘IIWI’ and the first letters of ‘MIND’ and ‘NATURE.’ Yutaka is a Tokyo-born graphic designer who moved to Hawaii in 1992 and now spends most of his spare time surfing, fishing, and hiking. Thus, most of his designs are based on the beauty of Hawaii’s nature and inspired by Roy Lichtenstein, advertising characters and ukiyo-e or Japanese woodblock prints. WIMINI uses water-based inks that are tested for harmful substances and are safe for humans as well as good for the environment. They are also cleansed with water in order to make the prints feel softer. In addition, WIMINI uses sunlight instead of electrical exposure units to expose the screens, since the sun shines for most of the year in Hawaii anyways. The t-shirts are made in a small garment factory in Los Angeles, and they are hand printed one by one in the company’s tiny factory in Hawaii.
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Situated in the heart of Chinatown, one of Honolulu’s most celebrated and storied neighborhoods, Owens & Co. is a uniquely curated home accessories and gift boutique. It was in March of 2011 that Missy Owens opened the doors of Owens & Co., her first brick-and-mortar store, in the historic Arts District of Honolulu’s Chinatown. Whether it’s chic, exclusive women’s clothing lines or handmade soaps, stationery, and home accessories, Owens & Co. stocks an eclectic selection of rare gifts you won’t find anywhere else, representing numerous locally made lines as well as others from across the globe. The shop has wide windows that let a generous amount of light inside, where charming decor provides a homey, comfortable, bright, and chic atmosphere. The items are neatly displayed and tables thoughtfully arranged to allow for free movement around the store, and the staff are always courteous and helpful, never pushy. A favorite local stop for unique gifts, Owens & Co.’s most popular items include potted succulents, rare jewelry, boxed stationery, greeting cards, fragrances, and cute kitchenware, though the selection often changes. They even carry many adorable and unique items for children and pets.
In late 2007, fishcake opened its doors in the heart of Kaka’ako, becoming an active part of the Honolulu design scene. A concept store and designer showroom that changes with the times, fishcake has seen clothing and vintage pop-ups, events, classes, exhibits, and even a startup co-working space, as well as, most recently, a coffee kiosk. The shop’s tagline is ‘furniture, accessories, and art for the home.’ Fueled by a love of contemporary design and artwork by designers, artists, and makers of Hawaii, fishcake hopes to inspire beauty, simplicity, and fun in everyone’s living environments. Its name was inspired by a factory space the owners were considering for the shop that once produced fishcakes for the local market — eventually, a better location turned up, but the name stuck. It reflects the shop’s roots in multi-cultural Honolulu and its approach to design, diverse and unconventional, but all in good taste. On most days, fishcake has several themed areas to peruse with pop-up shops from several local vendors carrying everything from shabby chic to hipster furniture, delicate chandeliers to artsy housewares. There is also a Morning Glass Coffee café area at the front of the store so that customers can enjoy coffee and snacks during their visit.
With everything from taxidermy to mid-century furniture to small leather goods, Hound & Quail is home to a unique cross between curiosities and antiques, with everything else in between. Vintage oddities and conversation pieces are carefully selected by owners and Hawaii natives Mark Pei and Travis Flazer, who started the business in early 2011. They have collected vintage and unusual items from Hawaii, the mainland, and around the world, showcasing them in a cozy place inspired by the small shops of Tokyo and Amsterdam. In addition, their prices are all very reasonable, and the sales staff are always friendly and knowledgable about the unique items in the store. Patrons love to stop in for wall art, gifts, mirrors, taxidermy, office and home decor, vintage cameras, and more, and it’s always nice to chat with the warm and friendly owners. The treasure trove of interesting items inspires the imagination and becomes a haven for creative people everywhere. The shop even has a cool basement event space called The Outpost, which is used for art shows, wine and art classes, and a variety of other amazing shows.