story by Jeela Ongley
photo by Dana Edmunds
Growing up in Pearl City, Ian Ginoza had to get his sneakers ("trainers" or "runners" to you international heads) in California, because the ones he wanted weren't available in the Islands. Today, the shoe's on the other foot, thanks in part to Ginoza's and partner Eddie Haus' popular sneaker boutique, Kicks/HI.
"I've actually got people calling me from big city fashion capitals, wishing they were in Hawai‘i so they could get our shoe releases," laughs Ginoza. The two Kicks/HI stores are Hawai‘i's main source for hard-to-find and locally designed shoes, which are drawing international attention.
Ginoza's designs are among the most popular. His first Hawai‘i-themed shoe, Nike's Kicks Hawai‘i Dunk (known unofficially as the "Aloha Dunk"), features a lauhala-like woven side panel; it sold out almost immediately (although pairs surface online at prices starting around $300). His second shoe, a Converse with a breadfruit leaf pattern by famous aloha wear designer Sig Zane, sold out in Hawai‘i. As part of the national (Product)Red promotion, Converse donated over $30,000 on behalf of Kicks/HI to help fight AIDS. Currently, Ginoza is working with Vans on a series of shoes which will be available in only three stores nationally, one of which, of course, is Kicks/HI.
Other brands are surfing the Hawai‘i aesthetic as well, with local designers riding the wave. Graffiti artist and designer Slick released an aloha print skate shoe with Gravis and Island Snow last year. Todd Shimabuku and Randy Tambio of local streetwear heavyweight In4mation collaborated with DVS on a shoe that featured an insole designed to look like a bare footprint in the sand.
More recently, prominent Hawai‘i emcee Tassho Pearce designed a series of four Hawai‘i-inspired shoes for Russell Simmons' Run Athletics brand. This spring will see the release of the flamboyantly cute Humuhumunukunukuapua‘a design and the more sedate Koa Wood, while Bird of Paradise and Shave Ice will follow in early summer.
"I used to hold up my sneakers in the air for RUN DMC at their live shows," says Pearce, whose Flip the Bird label logo caught the eye of the head of Run Athletics. It wasn't long before he found himself seated beside mogul Simmons himself at the Halekulani. "This is the biggest opportunity I've ever been involved with," says Pearce, who, along with Hawai‘i's trend-setting sneakerheads, is stepping up.