HONOLULU (KHON2) — Designer Micah Kamohoaliʻi received an email from the producers of New York Fashion Week.
He thought it was a hoax at first and sent it to the trash.
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It is a good thing he went back to check it, however, because it turned out to be the real deal.
He is the first Native Hawaiian designer to take part in the Runway 7 Fashion show at Sony Hall.
Inspired by his ancestors and the culture instilled in him, Micah Kamohoaliʻi launched his brand, “Dezigns by Kamohoaliʻi,” to showcase traditional designs used in the art of kapa, or bark cloth.
A dream 16 years in the making has taken him to one of the most prestigious fashion shows in the world.
“I think our people of Hawaiʻi are so beautiful and that they need to be on this runway,” Kamohoaliʻi said.
“They have full-figured bodies and they really know how to fill a dress out beautifully with all of their curves and shapes. So the opportunity for me to be able to provide that for all of our people. So, my models are from 18 to 73 years old.”
As a kumu hula and a kapa practitioner from the small paniolo town of Waimea, Micah lives a life of perpetuating the past.
As a fashion designer, he is able to bring forth his knowledge to continue the legacy of his ancestors while striving to make Hawaiian culture as relevant as possible.
“When we present our clothes, we present our culture and our people and we wear them on our clothes with us,” Kamohoaliʻi said.
“And it’s very touching for people to see that because most designers of the rest of the world just show couture, they just show clothing. We’re showing our connection to people, our connection to place, and proudly wearing the designs that we’ve had in our culture for thousands of years.”
From the beat of the pahu and the details of his designs to the stories behind them, Dezigns by Kamohoaliʻi hit the runway at New York Fashion Week to showcase the importance of culture and pave the way for the next Native Hawaiian to follow in his footsteps.
“I hope that it creates connections and bridges for others to go and for Hawaiian clothes and Hawaiians to be represented,” Kamohoaliʻi said.
“And I hope that it impacts everybody about the aloha that we have for our homeland and our stories that we hold so dear that it impacts the rest of the world to pay attention to those things that they have in their own cultures.”
Dezigns by Kamohoaliʻi hit the Runway 7 catwalk and received a standing ovation.
Micah has been invited to return to New York Fashion Week in 2021.
They will be hosting a concert to close off their trip on Friday, Sept. 10, at the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian, featuring music by Nā Hōkū Hanohano award-winner Amy Hanaialiʻi.
For more on Dezigns by Kamohoaliʻi, click here.